If all goes right, Jeremy Lin's path back to the NBA will include a stop in the same league that helped him reach NBA stardom in the first place.
Last week, Lin officially signed a G League contract with the Santa Cruz Warriors. His appearance in next month's bubble in Orlando, Fla. for the NBA's top developmental league will be his first in North American professional basketball's second tier since 2012. He recorded a triple-double in a single appearance with the Eerie Bayhawks that year, earning a call-up back to the New York Knicks three days later and becoming a bona fide global star that February at the height of "Linsanity."
Lin's return to the G League began with the suggestion of his agent, the 32-year-old told the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau in an interview for a story published Friday, who told him a stop there would offer a quicker path back to the NBA than another stop in China, where Lin played last season.
Then, Lin called a childhood friend.
Lin met with Warriors assistant general manger Kirk Lacob in-person at the start of NBA free agency in November, wanting to show Lacob friend that he was serious about a comeback.
The Warriors didn't have a spot for Lin in training camp, but they did have one in the G League. Lin told Letourneau that it was an offer he couldn't pass up, no matter how the optics appeared to others.
“In China, I had so much fan support and so many amazing things going on,” Lin told Letourneau. “To surrender all of that and to come here, honestly, some people think I’m crazy.”
Lin was one of the Chinese Basketball Association's most popular players last season, earning $3 million as a member of the Beijing Ducks. The G League's average salary is just over 1 percent of that, and he'll play as many as 15 games in a bubble on the Walt Disney World campus beginning Feb. 8.
But Lin believes he has enough to give an NBA team. He told Letourneau he has made peace with the legacy and trauma of "Linsanity," and the injuries that dogged him during his last few NBA seasons are in the rearview mirror.
Whether or not the Warriors would have interest in, let alone room for, Lin following the G League bubble is unclear, but they'll be far more than a footnote in his journey if he makes it to the NBA this time around. The Warriors, his hometown team, were one of two organizations to waive Lin before he caught fire with the Knicks.
This time, they could be part of the springboard that helps Lin reach the level where he feels he belongs.