Jeremy Lin will miss six weeks with a knee injury. He will likely miss the start of the playffs if the Knicks qualify.
Lin’s breakout season ends in cruel fashion, with the second-year point guard headed for surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.
The Knicks announced Saturday that Lin will be out six weeks. The regular season ends April 26.
“It sucks,” Lin said Saturday night. “Not being able to be out there with the team. It is what it is. So hopefully I can come back as soon as I can and help everybody.”
Lin became a cultural phenomenon when he led the Knicks to seven straight wins after being promoted to the starting lineup on Feb. 6 against Utah. He started 25 straight games, winning 15, before suffering a knee injury last Saturday in a win over Detroit.
“I mean, if this was done very early in the year, obviously, I don’t know where my career would be,” said Lin, who was close to being released before being given a chance to play.
“I would be definitely without a job and probably fighting for a summer-league spot. But having said that, this happening now hurts just as much because all the players, we really put our heart and soul into the team and into the season, and to not be there at the end when it really matters most, is hard.”
With Lin’s knee still sore, an MRI on Monday revealed a tear. Lin was faced with two options — play through the pain and delay surgery until after the season or have surgery now.
Lin sought the advice of several doctors and elected to rest and rehab his knee for seven days. But when he attempted to go through a light workout on Friday in Atlanta and again on Saturday he experienced discomfort.
“I can’t really do much,” Lin said during a press conference before Saturday night’s home game against Cleveland.
“I can’t really cut or jump, so it’s pretty clear that I won’t be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now. It’s disappointing for me, it’s hard to watch the games. And I think I want to be out there, obviously, more than anything, to help the team."
Lin consulted with the Knicks’ medical staff on Saturday and decided to go ahead with surgery this week in Manhattan.
“I’m always concerned when players get hurt because you just don’t know,” Mike Woodson said. “He’s elected to have the surgery and we got to respect that.
Only he knows the pain he’s feeling. There’s a problem and it’s got to be fixed.”
When asked if he was hoping Lin would postpone surgery for at least another month, Woodson said: “Only he knows his body. I know athletes that have torn theirs and played with it.
I don’t know how severe it is. The doctors looked at it. Obviously it’s severe enough that they’re suggesting or he’s suggesting they go in and have it fixed so he’s ready to go in six weeks.”
Lin is hoping to beat the odds and return for the playoffs, but with Amar’e Stoudemire suffering from a back injury and Lin sidelined for six weeks, there is no guarantee that the Knicks will qualify for the postseason. Baron Davis, who missed two months with a back injury and now has a sore hamstring, will continue to be the starting point guard.
Veteran Mike Bibby will play while Woodson said that Toney Douglas, the innocent victim during Linsanity, will finally get another chance.
Lin’s future is uncertain. He will be a free agent on July 1, and the coach he thrived under, Mike D’Antoni, was replaced by Woodson. In all likelihood, the Knicks, who have made a small fortune from Linsanity will look to retain the Harvard graduate.
However, they may also try to upgrade at the position and potentially look into signing free agent-to-be Steve Nash.
“I’m not even worried about that right now,” Lin said of his pending free agency. “It’s not like a career-ending thing, or it’s not something that will bother me.
Once it’s fixed, it’s fixed. It’s the most simple surgery you can have. I’m more concerned about the season.”
Lin, who was cut by the Warriors and Rockets in December and spent time in the D-League, also made it clear that he wants his future to be in the same place where his career really began.
“Oh yeah, I think New York, the way the city, the fans, writers, the media, everybody, I think, it’s been an unbelievable journey,” Lin said.
“I would love to keep this team together as long as we can, everybody, top to bottom, I think. we’re growing as a team, we’re finding an identity, we’re getting better.
And we have so much potential, we have so much talent, and I think it’s a process in terms of reaching our potential.”