Jeremy Lin said he is "cautiously optimistic" that he will play again for the New York Knicks this year, but doesn't think it will be until the second round of the playoffs.
The Knicks point guard speaking before yesterday's 100-99 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls— and six days after surgery for a torn left meniscus— said he does not want to rush back.
"I think unless something goes really well I wouldn't get there," said Lin about returning for the first round.
"It depends on how far and how long it goes," he continued. "But obviously I want to be 100‰ and then come back, hopefully see what I can do. By then it'll be a different team identity ... chemistry. So it gets tricky, too. Yeah I'm doing everything and we're doing everything we can to get back as soon as possible."
One thing that is going well is the Knicks— even without Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire. The team beat the first place Bulls to keep pace with the Philadelphia 76ers and a slim one game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot.
Lin— in his best Men in Black suit— sat on the bench as Carmelo Anthony drained an amazing three-point shot for Sunday's OT victory. The team is 6-2 without Lin.
This gives Lin hope that the Knicks will still be around for round two.
The Knicks had originally said there was a six week timetable for Lin's return. The regular season ends on April 26 and nothing is set in stone.
"We haven't set a best case yet," said Lin. "We're happy with the way things have gone. It's hard to tell because there is so much fluid."
Lin said he will start running late next week and isn't sure if the NBA's condensed season contributed to his breakdown.
"I was like, 'wow, this is what it takes, huh?'" he said. Really, that's what it was because the games came so fast. Playing three, four games a week, there was really never a week except for the All-Star (break).
"I still may have gotten hurt (without the condensed schedule). That's hard to say. I mean, I think obviously a condensed schedule can be harder on people's bodies. I don't know if that was the exact cause. I don't know if I would have still gotten hurt if it was a normal season. That's kind of hard to guess."
Even if the Knicks make it to the playoffs and advance to a second round, Lin will still be a little out of game shape.
"The cutting jumping, that's going to be the tricky part," he said.