Woodson talked as if the Knicks had already matched the four-year, $28.8 million offer sheet Lin agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets.
“Absolutely,” Woodson said when asked whether the Knicks would retain their young point guard. “Jeremy Lin has always been a big part of what we’re trying to do as we move forward.”
Lin is expected to sign the offer sheet as soon as Thursday, and then the Knicks would have to match it by Sunday.
Woodson took it one step further: Lin will be his starting point guard this season.
“You can’t lose your starting job based on injuries,” Woodson said. “Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. He’s not going to be punished for that.”
Lin, who was waived twice before he became an international sensation last season, averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists in 25 games as a starter.
Jason Kidd and Steve Novak have yet to finalize their deals, Woodson said, but the Knicks hope to sign them Thursday. Kidd will back up Lin and could play the shooting guard position at times.
“I’m happy he’s a part of our team,” Woodson said of Kidd. “He gets the most out of the guys around him, and that’s what’s going to be most important.”
Carmelo Anthony agreed.
“This is one of the best opportunities that Jeremy would probably ever have from a standpoint of playing under a guy like Jason,” he said. “I think he should take advantage of this.”
The Knicks will have to make a decision on Landry Fields, who started next to Lin. Fields, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year deal Wednesday with the Toronto Raptors worth $18.7 million. The Knicks have until Saturday to match the offer.
Before free agency, General Manager Glen Grunwald said he wanted to keep Fields. It is now unclear whether the Knicks will.
“I don’t know,” Woodson said of retaining Fields.
The Knicks finalized deals with Marcus Camby, J. R. Smith and James White on Wednesday.
Camby, who played for Knicks from 1998 to 2002, returned in a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets. He averaged 4.9 points and 9 rebounds last season and will back up Tyson Chandler.
“It’s exciting when you get the chance to bring a former Knick like Marcus Camby back home,” Grunwald said in a statement. “His defensive presence, shot-blocking ability and offensive board work will give us nice depth in our frontcourt.”
The Knicks will be the 6-foot-7 White’s third N.B.A. team. He played six games for San Antonio in 2006-7 and spent the 2008-9 season with Houston.
White, 29, improved his shooting touch the last two seasons in the Italian Serie A league, the highest level in Italian professional basketball. He averaged 17.4 points last year for VL Pesaro. The year before, White led the league in scoring, with 21 points a game for Dinamo Sassari.
White’s athleticism will allow him to play both shooting guard and small forward.
Smith could be the starting shooting guard when the season opens since Iman Shumpert continues to recover from his left knee injury.
With the addition of Camby, 38, and Kidd, 39, Woodson agreed the Knicks had become an older team. He did not flinch when asked whether Camby or Kidd were too old to help the Knicks achieve their goal of winning a championship.
“I haven’t seen a young team win an N.B.A. title in the last 15 years,” he said. “I think that’s why the Heat are loading up with older guys and why Boston did what it did. It’s veteran guys who are winning N.B.A. titles.”