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Jeremy Lin was 'open' to Knicks return, team wasn't, he says

Jeremy Lin, now with noticably higher hair, says he would have returned to the Knicks after his success in New York, but the team was not interested in bringing him back.JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin, now with noticably higher hair, says he would have returned to the Knicks after his success in New York, but the team was not interested in bringing him back.

CHARLOTTE – Three years after Linsanity left New York and subsequently fizzled in the Western Conference, Jeremy Lin’s agent reached out to the Knicks to gauge their interest in a reunion. The answer, according to Lin, was a conclusive no.

“There was no conversation other than them telling me they weren’t interested,” the Hornets point guard told the Daily News before sitting out Saturday’s 97-93 preseason victory over the Knicks with an illness.

Lin, a free agent over the summer, instead inked a two-year, $ 4.3 million contract with Charlotte. It was a hefty pay cut from the $ 25 million deal he signed with Houston back in 2012, which the Knicks controversially decided against matching.

Among the reported reasons, besides the obvious financial: James Dolan felt deceived and under-appreciated by the Harvard product. Despite the acrimonious separation, Lin never ruled out a return to the Garden. But the 27-year-old believes those feelings aren’t reciprocated by the Knicks.

“I’ve always been open to it, ever since I, you know, I don’t want to say I necessarily left, ever since (they decided they didn’t want to re-sign me),” Lin said. “But I’ve always been open to it. But I don’t think they’re as open to it.”

As for Dolan, who has never publicly addressed the decision not to re-sign his former undrafted phenomenon, Lin said they barely spoke when he was in New York. They have not talked since Lin left for Houston.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Enlarge Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

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Three years after Linsanity dominates at the Garden – and the headlines – Jeremy Lin is now on his third team. It’s the Charlotte Hornets (l.) in 2015.

“Honestly, I haven’t really had much communication with him. So I don’t really have much of an impression of him.” “(There’s no animosity) from my perspective,” Lin added. “I understand. And I understand why it happened. But no animosity. To be honest, I’m very much past it.”

Coach Derek Fisher passed the Lin question to team president Phil Jackson, who did not travel with the team to Charlotte.

“If his agent did call, he didn’t call my phone. He called Phil’s or (GM) Steve (Mills’) phone. So they can better answer to that,” Fisher said. “Jeremy’s obviously a really good player and coming into this league as a guy who people really didn’t know if he could even make it in the league. I think he’s proven that he belongs here and seems like this opportunity is working out in Charlotte for him and I’m happy for him.”

Owner Michael Jordan, speaking to the Chinese media, also labeled Lin, “our biggest acquisition.” A starting spot opened up when swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tore his labrum earlier this month.

“I can play (shooting guard),” Lin said. “I played it in college. So I’ve always said my bread-and-butter would be the point guard but I have no problem playing the two as well. I consider myself a combo guard. And honestly in this system it’s at times interchangeable.”

After Lin took New York by storm as an undrafted free agent in the second half of the 2011-12 season, his career stalled with the Rockets and Lakers. He spent most of the last two seasons coming off the bench.

“It was very difficult for various reasons. In Houston, they kind of brought me in and didn’t know they were going to get James (Harden). Me and James are both ball-dominant pick-and-roll players,” he said. “And L.A. was just a different system and they were going in a different direction in general.”

PORZINGIS BACK

Kristaps Porzingis returned from a two-game absence and struggled, missing eight of his 11 shots while finishing with six points in 17 minutes. He also had a dunk blocked by Hornets forward Cody Zeller. Porzingis had missed time because of a strained quad, his third injury since the start of the draft process. Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Kyle O’Quinn all rested, as the Knicks lost for the first time in five preseason games.

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