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In Mild Bummer, Jeremy Lin Is Headed To China

Photo: Tony Dejak (AP)

Perfectly serviceable rotation guard and tough-luck injury casualty Jeremy Lin was deeply bummed to find this summer that NBA teams had for the most part lost interest in him as a free agent. Now, a month later, Lin has made the decision to move on from the NBA and continue his basketball career elsewhere.

The Beijing Shougang Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association announced Tuesday that they’ve signed Lin to a player contract and are in the process of completing paperwork with the league in order to add him to their roster for next season. There’s no rule that says Lin has to stay in China forever, but in an Instagram post published Tuesday morning, Lin sounds like he might be at peace with the possibility of this move signaling the end of his NBA career:

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The back half of Jeremy Lin’s NBA career was, for the most part, a gigantic bummer, especially compared with his thrilling rise to prominence with the Knicks late in the 2011–12 season. Lin was dynamic but a smidgen overhyped in New York, then productive but somewhat disappointing in two seasons with the Rockets. After a mostly lost season on an excruciatingly bad and miserable Lakers team, Lin seemed to find a real niche as an attacking combo guard with the Hornets, ultimately playing his way into a nice contract and a starting gig with the Brooklyn Nets.

That opportunity in Brooklyn was a kind of culmination for Lin, and it went almost immediately to shit due to persistent hamstring injuries that cost him most of his first season, and then a devastating, season-ending knee injury suffered in the very first game of his second season. Lin wound up playing just 37 total games with the Nets, and was eventually traded to the Hawks, where his role was to mentor Trae Young on a team with absolutely no intention of competing for anything meaningful. Another dump trade brought him to the Raptors and got him a championship ring, but by the end of last season he’d become an afterthought, a 31-year-old guard with too much recent injury history and a somewhat glaring dearth of recent meaningful on-court production on his résumé.

It’s worth noting, here, that before Lin was riding the deep bench for the Raptors down the stretch last season, he was doing work against the Raptors in a frisky Hawks showing in Toronto. He may not have had the wheels he had as a 23-year-old, but this was clearly a guy who could still do the job:

No one is exactly to blame for Lin being cast off from the NBA. Sixty shiny new draft picks join NBA organizations every year, and the NBA is deep with competent rotation guards, and every offseason a healthy handful of guys around Lin’s age fall off the NBA radar for good. Still, this is a bummer. The NBA is more interesting with Jeremy Lin in it, and it seems massively unfair for a guy to come so close to a good, stable situation and then have it all yanked away by brutal leg injuries. For now, barring something dramatic, at least Lin will be able to say his last game in an NBA uniform was a victory in the NBA Finals.

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