“We wouldn’t be getting a Christmas game if it wasn’t for Jeremy Lin,” guard Shaun Livingston said as the Rockets held media day on Monday to open their training camp. Livingston is right. Aside from Lin, the 2012-13 Rockets’ roster is rather bland as well as young. Eleven of the 20 players are rookies or second-year players. In that sense, the 24-year-old Lin, a 6-foot-3-inch point guard with all of 64 games of N.B.A. experience, fits right in. And his teammates seemed to enjoy talking, and joking, about him.
“I can’t wait until I’m watching ESPN and I see a highlight of Jeremy Lin passing me the ball and I hit a shot and they say, ‘Jeremy Lin to Jeremy Lamb,’ ” said Lamb, a rookie out of Connecticut. “Or the other way around when I pass it to him, because he’s a great shooter.”
In 35 games (25 starts) with the last season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists a game. More than that, he became a national phenomenon, the Lin in Linsanity, which, in the end, did not last all that long because, over the summer, the Knicks did not match the Rockets’ free-agent contract offer.
So now Lin is in Houston, where he seemed at home as he talked to reporters. “I had a lot of fun last year, and I’m having a lot of fun now,” he said.
“For me, I see this as just the beginning. I’ve played only 64 games. I’m very young and learning.”
In a sense, the Rockets are learning, too, as they try to determine how best to use their new star.
“We’ve got to figure out what he does really well and get more of that, and what he doesn’t do well, we’ll have other people do that,” said Kevin McHale, the Rockets’ coach.
This is actually Lin’s second stint with the Rockets. Last December, he was in Houston’s training camp for 12 days as the N.B.A. prepared for a lockout-delayed start to the season. The Knicks then claimed him off waivers on Dec. 27.
Lin said his discussions with the Rockets this past summer, as they successfully recruited him away from the Knicks, gave him some idea of what to expect from McHale.
As to what to expect from other N.B.A. players, who may think he has not really earned the fame and fortune he has quickly built, Lin seemed unconcerned.
“It’s out of my control,” Lin said. “I’m going to play the same whether there’s a target on my back or not.”
Then there are his teammates, who do not seem jealous at all.
“Everything he got last year he never asked for,” forward Chandler Parsons said.
“The way he carries himself, I have the upmost respect for him, and the guys embrace that and respect that and want to be around it. I love that he’s in Houston.”
Shooting guard Kevin Martin added, “He’s the guy I’m looking at to relieve a lot of pressure off me.”
Lin said he thought playing with the Rockets again would be fun “because we’re talented.”
“And I’ve been playing with the guys in the off-season,” he said. “They’re definitely talented.”
New York already seems to be fading into the distance.