Toronto Raptors fans know just how lethal Jeremy Lin can be.
Lin was enjoying a dazzling breakout season in New York in 2011-12 when he brought his “Linsanity” road show to Toronto, draining a three-point dagger at the buzzer to lift the Knicks 90-87 over the Raptors. The Air Canada Centre fans, many of whom were there to witness the so-called Linsanity, erupted in a mix of disbelief and delirium.
Now Lin is on Toronto’s side.
The veteran guard is about to sign with the playoff-contending Raptors, after he worked out a buyout agreement with Atlanta.
“The future is bright for Atlanta!!! I truly mean that!” Lin posted Monday on Instagram. “Everyone who knows me knows how big my dreams are and that I have so much left to give to the game. Hyped to join the Raptors!!”
The Hawks waived Lin on Monday, and his move to Toronto, first reported by ESPN, had “Linsanity” trending on Twitter. The video of his memorably buzzer-beater in Toronto made the social media rounds.
Lin thanked the Hawks in his post, saying they helped him “become myself again on the basketball court and allowed me to experience the joy of hoops again!”
Lin gives the Raptors a much-needed point guard after the team traded away Delon Wright in last week’s blockbuster deal that brought Marc Gasol to Toronto. And the team announced Monday that backup guard Fred VanVleet will be sidelined for three weeks with a ligament injury in his thumb.
While Raptors coach Nick Nurse couldn’t talk about the deal, Nets coach Kenny Anderson, who coached Lin in Brooklyn, did.
“Heck of an addition for the Raptors,” Anderson said before the Nets tipped off against Toronto on Monday. “What I always said about Jeremy, he’s a heckuva competitor. Much better defender than people think. He fits the style of play I think Nick wants to play. He’s an elite competitor. Everyone competes in this league, but I think there is a pocket of guys that go above and beyond that.
“Very smart. And versatile. You saw him guard Dwyane Wade in the playoffs. Excellent pickup.”
Toronto will become Lin’s eighth NBA franchise, after stints with Golden State, New York, Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte, Brooklyn and this season Atlanta. He appeared in 51 games for the Hawks, all but one of those as a reserve, averaging 10.7 points this season on nearly 47 per cent shooting.
The plan to enter into an agreement with Lin comes one day after the Raptors finalized the conversion of two-way player Chris Boucher’s contract to an NBA standard contract.
The Raptors entered Monday with a 41-16 record and second place in the Eastern Conference behind only NBA-leading Milwaukee.
Lin has averaged 11.8 points in 457 career games. He has been part of three previous playoff runs, in 2013 and 2014 with Houston and in 2016 with Charlotte.
– With files from The Associated Press.