Coach says Knicks want Jeremy Lin back

Jeremy Lin, whose breakout NBA season with the New York Knicks was cut short by injury, will return for the team next season, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.

"Jeremy's a big part of our team," Woodson said on Thursday, a day after the Knicks were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

"Will he start? Only time will tell. He's got to recover from his knee and use this summer to really work on his game to put himself in the best position possible for our ballclub.

"This summer will be pivotal in terms of his improvement. Will he back next year? Absolutely."

Lin, an American whose parents are from Taiwan, became a global sensation as the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA when he was plucked from the bench in February after Knicks stars succumbed to injuries.

The Harvard graduate had been cut by two other teams and was days away from seeing his NBA dreams end before the Knicks gave him a look.

With drives to the basket, pinpoint passes and top shooting efforts, Lin sparked a seven-game win streak for the Knicks and built a following known as "Linsanity" that kept him in the lineup long after the streak ended and the stars returned.

Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists before requiring surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee on April 2.

Although he achieved star status this season, the Knicks could opt to sign a more experienced point guard.

Amare Stoudemire has made no secret of the fact that he'd like to play again with Steve Nash, his former teammate in Phoenix.

"What team wouldn't want a two-time MVP?" Stoudemire asked. "An assist leader, a veteran point guard, what team wouldn't want that? But we do have Jeremy Lin here and we do have confidence in him and what he can do for us."

It's possible the Knicks could bring in a more experienced starter, and use Lin as a back-up.

Lin himself said he'll just focus on getting healthy and getting better.

"It's all up in the air. In my short amount of time in the league, I've had tougher things to deal with," Lin said. "Once training camp starts, wherever I'm at, I'm all about trying to make that team better."

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