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Lin: No Atkinson, No Nets

Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Back in June, as free agency approached, the idea of Jeremy Lin-to-Brooklyn seemed like a no-brainer. The Nets needed a point guard in the worst way. Lin could return to New York, where Linsanity roared in 2012. He would be reunited with Kenny Atkinson, the Knikc assistant first discovered his talent and drive.

But as Mike Mazzeo writes for ESPN Tuesday, it was not as easy as it seemed. Lin toyed with idea of playing with Anthony Davis in New Orleans.

Lin was highly intrigued about the possibility of teaming up with Pelicans star Anthony Davis and playing for Alvin Gentry in New Orleans' D'Antoni-inspired offense, sources said. But the Pelicans weren't willing pay what the Nets were, paving the way for Lin's return to New York.

Lin told Mazzeo that he spent the night and early morning of July 1 mulling the offers with family, friends and his agent. "I couldn't sleep," Lin said. "I was too excited."

The Nets had met with him the night before. The Brooklyn contingent included Kenny Atkinson, Sean Marks and Brook Lopez.

"We were showing the positives of playing out here," Lopez told Mazzeo. "Obviously, he knows that firsthand from playing with the Knicks, but just how we can benefit from him and how he can benefit from us -- that sort of symbiotic relationship. We just kept harping on the differences in our organization and the franchise as a whole from the top down."

Lopez needed to make the comparison. A year before, Billy King offered Lin the mini-MLE, three years at $10 million. He wasn’t interested. "They were never legitimately a contender in terms of where I wanted to go,” Lin told Mazzeo.

Finally, at 7:02 a.m. Pacific Time, Lin tweeted out his decision. He would sign a three-year, $36 million deal, the third year a player option.

It was a big turnaround from a year before when interest in Lin was at rock bottom, when some teams wouldn’t even offer him a vets minimum after his tour with the Lakers. His value had shrunk that much.

Lin and Atkinson both told Mazzeo that their relationship was key to the pairing of point guard and team.

"I really got to know him and started to appreciate him more," Atkinson said. "It was really a friendship. Your coach is usually your mentor, but we'd go out and mix it up a bit, playing a lot of one-on-one during my younger days. I think he liked my energy."

Now, it’s on them ... big time