Jeremy Lin's breakout with the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 NBA season remains one of the most unlikely rises in basketball history. With downtime due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin revealed an interesting tidbit from around that time in his career: he actually wanted a lower offer from the Houston Rockets in restricted free agency so that he could return to New York.
“‘Can you tell Houston to lower the offer, this is too much,' Lin said he told his NBA agent, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “Because I wanted to go back to New York and I wanted New York to match. The time there, with the fans, everything, it was so special. I was like, ‘I need to go back to New York. That's where my heart is.'”
Of course, Lin didn't return to New York, because the team never matched what ultimately became a unique three-year, $25 million deal that was heavily backloaded. The Knicks reportedly never made an offer at all.
Lin was put in the position of arriving in Houston the same NBA offseason that James Harden did. The two never meshed in their on-court tendencies, leading to the Rockets dealing Lin to the Lakers before his contract concluded.
Lin eventually found his way back to New York, just with the Brooklyn Nets for a brief two-year stint in 2016-18 that was marred by injury. Lin became an NBA champion last season as a member of the Toronto Raptors, though he barely played.
Still just 31 years old and looking for another NBA job after going over to China, it's conceivable that Lin could find his way back to the Knicks at some point, but it appears that he still considers the “what if?” that could have drastically shaped his career nearly a decade ago.