The Houston Rockets and Jeremy Lin have something of an untenable situation on their hands. Whereas when he was initially signed it seemed as though Daryl Morey had big plans for his young, Harvard-bred floor general, basically every personnel move that’s been made since then has squashed any and all hope of Lin’s effectiveness being maximized.
Between James Harden dominating the ball on the perimeter and Dwight Howard inevitably having the offense run through him in the post this year, there isn’t much room for Lin in the starting lineup. Keep in mind, when the Rockets signed Omer Asik, this wasn’t a problem. Asik doesn’t need the ball to dominate in the paint the way Howard does. He wasn’t an additional person who would take the rock out of Lin’s hands – Howard is. So now, basically, you have two guys who will take away Lin’s touches.
When you factor into the equation the fact that Russell Westbrook Killer, Patrick Beverley, is a marginally better three point shooter, and you immediately see why there is so much trade speculation surrounding Lin these days.
Lin is currently a third of the way into his three-year, $25 million contract. While that seems like a lot of money, it’s not. If Houston wanted to play Lin in a Manu Ginobili-esque Sixth Man of the Year role next year where he could dominate the ball a little more with the second team, they probably could. However, at the moment, it doesn’t seem like they want to.
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Two weeks ago, after it became clear what the Rockets’ roster would look like next year, Bill Ingram reported this: “A source with direct knowledge of the situation confirms Rockets working hard to move Jeremy Lin ... very limited interest for teams.” While some fans seem to want to disregard this because it happened 17 whole days ago, it is worth noting that teams who want to trade players because they don’t fit with their roster plans typically don’t change their minds over the course of seven-day intervals. If Morey had his heart set on getting Lin off the books at the start of July – he probably has the same intentions heading towards the end of it.
All of which brings us to the obvious question: Where could Lin go? The possible options have been discussed at length. You can check them out here and here. Today, instead, let’s reiterate where he won’t go. The internet is a breeding ground for rumors, and three possible landing spots that are floating around don’t really make much sense.
Boston Celtics – While this made some sense initially, Howard has reportedly made it clear through private channels that he has no interest in playing with Rajon Rondo. That sort of kills any and all possible deals that can be made between Houston and Boston. Knowing how sensitive his new high-priced big man can be, there is no way Morey would go out and acquire a guy whose renowned for alienating his teammates in a Kobe-esque manner. Plus, Rondo would run into a lot of the same problems Lin ran into. The Rockets need more of a Phil Jackson-type point guard -- someone big who can shoot -- than a classic Rondo-type point guard.
Golden State Warriors – For obvious reasons, whenever Lin’s availability is mentioned, Golden State pops up as a possible destination. Let’s dead that rumor right now. Between the $10 million that the Warriors owe Stephen Curry next year and the, you know, existence of Stephen Curry, they have no need for someone who will challenge him for point guard supremacy. The abundance of guards they have on the roster also kills any real necessity for a backup of Lin’s caliber. With their payroll at right around $62 million this season, the Warriors won’t be looking to add Lin to the equation no matter how much fans hope for it.
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Los Angeles Lakers – This was previously discussed, but just to reiterate: no. If Mitch Kupchak had wanted Lin, he would’ve been brought over in a sign-and-trade for Howard. The Lakers are going to ride Steve Nash to wherever they can ride him to, try to acquire a high-profile free agent when all of the useless filler comes off their books and then move forward from there. Adding Lin is not a priority.
The bottom line is this: Lin may very well not be traded this summer because, honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a demand for him. He’d be a great fit with the Detroit Pistons or Charlotte Bobcats, but it remains to be seen if those squads are willing to pull the trigger. The key point, however, is that people shouldn’t misconstrue an inability to move someone for a lack of desire to move someone. Houston wants to deal Lin – that’s a fact. Whether they’re actually able to or not is dependent on factors outside their control.