- Last Updated: 7:30 AM, July 12, 2012
- Posted: 1:16 AM, July 12, 2012
LAS VEGAS — Not only are the Knicks matching Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet, but they are starting him next season, too.
Coach Mike Woodson boldly stated Wednesday night Lin begins training camp as first string point guard over newcomer Jason Kidd.
“I won’t do that,’’ Woodson said of benching Lin. “You can’t lose your starting job based on injuries. Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. Unfortunately he went down with an injury. He’s not going to be punished for that. He’s got work to do this summer. But when he comes back to veterans camp, he’ll have the first nod. He’ll be our starter and Jason will back him up in terms of helping developing this young man into a great point guard.
“Jeremy Lin has always been a big part of what we are trying to do moving forward.’’
Woodson spoke before the team’s first summer-league practice and the first day of the signing period, wanting to put to bed any point-guard controversy. The Knicks did not officially match Lin’s offer sheet from Houston Wednesday because they had yet to receive it from the busy Rockets. Houston views it as a low priority because the team knows the Knicks will match.
“Never once,’’ Woodson said when asked if the Knicks blinked at the Rockets’ backloaded $28.8 million offer. “But until that deal is done, I’m not really allowed to talk about it.’’
The Knicks will hold a press conference today in Westchester introducing their new signees — Kidd and center Marcus Camby. Wednesday, the Knicks officially signed James White, the supremely athletic Italian League swingman, and plucked into the Spanish League to ink 35-year-old veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni.
Carmelo Anthony thought it could actually be good for Lin to come off the bench and learn from Kidd this season.
“This will be one of the best opportunities that Jeremy will ever have, from a standpoint of playing under Kidd,’’ Anthony said before the U.S. Olympic team’s practice as it gears up for Thursday night’s exhibition game versus the Dominican Republic. “If [Lin] comes off the bench, playing behind a guy like Jason Kidd, playing under a guy and learning from Jason Kidd, he should take advantage of this opportunity — just having JKidd on our team.’’
The 39-year-old Kidd, who will sign a 3-year, $9.3 million deal, talked about playing 25 minutes a night. He said last week he’s more concerned with playing the final six minutes than starting. Woodson said there are scenarios in which Kidd and Lin could be on the floor together.
Anthony said he hopes whoever starts is not an issue.
“We want to make it work,’’ he said. “Everybody has a role. Everybody has a position. We all have to do that. If we worry about who’s starting, who’s not starting, minutes played, it’s going to interfere with our plans.’’
The Knicks made it tough on Lin during the negotiations and it forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Select Team, which is practicing against the Olympians. The Post reported Lin would have played with an insurance policy until the Rockets recruiting visit came up.
Lin reportedly was upset at the Knicks’ negotiating strategy, which The Post first reported on June 30. Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald would not make Lin an offer and had him set his own market, essentially forcing him into an offer sheet from another club.
On Twitter, Lin disputed any ill feelings still exist over the Knicks’ strategy, writing “Lol why do u guys believe everything? No quotes from me = probably not true.”
Whether Lin made out better by seeking an offer sheet is not yet clear because only $19.6 million of the 4-year, $28.8 million deal with the Rockets is guaranteed. The final year at $9.3 million is a team option. Grunwald could have made him a four-year, $23 million guarantee using the Bird exception.
The shame of the negotiation is Lin missed out on Vegas. “I thought he was going to be here,’’ Anthony said. “That was the plan. For sure he would’ve [benefitted]. Why wouldn’t it help him, going against a team that will help him every day?’’Follow @NYPostsports