Jeremy Lin’s Benching Great News for James Harden, Rockets

| by Alex Groberman

Jeremy Lin hasn’t officially been relegated to the bench yet, but clearly that move is on the horizon. Everyone is saying all the right things. Kevin McHale is pretending as though his mind isn’t already made up. But the writing is on the wall for Lin. He’s going to be coming off the bench for the Rockets next year.

And that’s great news for all involved.

It’s fantastic news for the Rockets, who apparently finally realized that Lin doesn’t play well with James Harden. It’s great news for Lin, who will be able to play up to his high skill level and not be forced to defer to a shooting guard whose usage rate was the ninth highest in the league last year. It’s great for Harden, who no longer has to feel guilty about taking touches away from Lin. It’s great for Dwight Howard, because it ensures that he and Harden will be able to develop a solid two-man game. Finally, it’s great for McHale, who won’t have to deal with the headaches that come standard when you’re trotting out the wrong starting lineup each night.

Earlier this week, McHale spoke with the Houston Chronicle regarding sitting down Lin and starting Patrick Beverley.

"As a player, I always found it irrelevant," he said. "I came off the bench in a lot of games. What is the big difference in playing 27½ minutes off the bench and playing 26 minutes as a starter? I guess it is a big deal to some people."

That’s just spin, obviously. Starting lineups and who is in them matters. It’s not in any way reflective of who the team’s best players are, but it’s certainly not ‘irrelevant.’

For their parts, Lin and Beverley are saying all the right things regarding swapping roles.

"We have different strengths," Lin said of himself and Beverley. "[Beverley] is such a good defender and shooter. I am better with the ball in my hands, attacking. I think that makes us tough to scout, and it gives us the opportunity to give a lot of different looks."

Beverley agrees with that general sentiment.

"I've gotta get in where I fit in," he said. "I know I can't make big offensive plays the way (Lin) does. He is really good at that, and I am working on it. I know I can get in there on defense and make those plays, though."

This move is exactly what basketball fans have been calling for since last year’s playoffs, when it became apparent that Beverley was a far better fit for the Rockets’ starting lineup than Lin was.

If this actually happens, Lin very well could turn into a Manu Ginobili-esque Sixth Man of the Year type player next season. If it doesn’t happen, though, then you can probably expect to hear trade rumors right around December.