Late last week Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey hosted a Reddit AMA with fans. It was an interesting session that was highlighted moreso by Morey’s willingness to engage folks than any information he actually divulged. That being said, the back-and-forth had its moments. The bit that sticks out the most is Morey’s defense of Jeremy Lin and the campaign he had with the Rockets last year.
A fan asked Morey how he felt about Lin’s up and down year. The Rockets GM, rather than just saying he was satisfied with the progress his free agent signing had made and promising improvement in 2013-14, got super defensive.
It is amazing to me that all the time I encounter people feeling negative about Jeremy's season with us. I have chalked this up to:
-- he started off slow, mostly do to getting 100% back from injury
-- very high, unrealistic expectations after his time in New York
-- had a rough ending in the playoffs, again due to injury
-- people generally remember starts & ends more than anything else
-- people generally compare things to their expectations when forming opinions versus look at the big picture
Last year was Jeremy's 1st full year in the league. Essentially his rookie year. If last season would have been his rookie year and he never would have played in New York, right now people would be appropriately talking about him incessantly as one of the top young rookie stars in the league. He was the starting point guard on a playoff team in West at age 24!!! Don't get me started on this. Too late...
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Here is the thing: A lot about that is true. But at the same time, simply chalking up Lin’s shortcomings to rookie jitters, despite the fact that he isn’t a rookie and actually played on a bigger stage in the past, is ridiculous. Lin’s troubles stemmed from two things: injuries and bad coaching. Not bad coaching in the sense that Kevin McHale is a bad coach, but bad coaching in the sense that McHale chose to prioritize James Harden’s success over Lin’s. And because Lin was constantly forced to adjust as opposed to being able to just play his game, he was off key for a lot of last season.
Morey knows this, of course. Despite what he said at the AMA, there’s a reason why he made Lin available for trades prior to the Dwight Howard signing. He knows that, most likely, his Harden-Lin backcourt will never be as great as some folks think it can be.
The obvious question is: What’s the fix? Well, the obvious fix is either relegating Lin to the bench or trading him. Over the past week we’ve looked at some potential landing spots for the 24-year-old, should Houston opt for the latter option. The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats have been reviewed thus far.
Up next: Detroit Pistons.
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Detroit has been one of the most interesting teams to watch this summer. Tired of the awfulness that his franchise had been subjecting fans to ever since the Chauncey Billups trade, Joe Dumars signed Josh Smith to a pricey deal this summer and then traded for Brandon Jennings. Both guys come with their fair share of flaws, but both moves also send a clear message: Detroit wants to be relevant again.
While the addition of Smith makes a lot of sense, the sign-and-trade for Jennings seems more like a move made out of necessity than one that anyone actually wanted to make. When you have a guy who loves to take bad shots as often as Smith does, the last thing you want to do is pair him with a guy who has the same problem. Sure, Jennings is supremely talented and can run the pick-and-roll with the best of them when he wants to, but there’s a reason why ‘when he wants to’ is always added to that sentence.
What the Pistons needed was a playmaker point guard who can score, not a scorer who can make the occasional play. Lin would’ve been a perfect fit for Detroit.
It’s worth noting, a week after the Jennings trade was made, reports surfaced that Dumars was still very interested in bringing in Rajon Rondo. While the odds of Detroit getting Rondo are slim to none, the fact that they were still interested after getting Jennings means that they know he’s not the type of point guard they need.
So, what sort of deal would net the Pistons Lin? One like this would work:
Rodney Stuckey is there because Jennings can’t be traded until the 15th of December. But you can replace him with any player whose salary fits the bill.
Instead of a straight up trade, though, a far more interesting swap would look something like this:
Of all the proposed deals up discussed up to this point, one where Lin lands in Detroit makes the most amount of sense. Unfortunately, Houston has no use for another two guard in a one’s body. So if Lin were to land with the Pistons, the trade would have to involve a third team.