The Houston Rockets will probably hold on to Jeremy Lin through December. Typically NBA trades come in flurries during particular hot periods. Early in the summer when restricted and unrestricted free agents are preparing to commit to various teams and the draft is right around the corner, that’s one hot period. It’s usually then followed by a cold period where everyone sits pat until the regular season starts.
A few months into the season, though, once everyone is clear on where they stand, the next hot period approaches. It’s usually right around the All-Star break, and it features non-contenders freeing up cap space and/or trying to acquire talented players to build around from legitimate contenders who have spare parts and/or are one piece away.
Prior to signing Dwight Howard, the Rockets made it known that they were open to trading Lin and Omer Asik. Although there were some murmurs about varying degrees of interest, ultimately nobody took he bait. That means while a trade still makes the same amount of sense now as it did a month ago, chances are Daryl Morey will simply ride this roster into the regular season and see how things look.
If anything doesn’t look the way he wants it to by December, that’s probably when he’ll pull the trigger. Besides, players who moved around this summer can’t be traded until Dec. 15 anyway, so there is going to be a larger pool of available talent at that point.
Until then, all we can do is look at where players who probably won’t play out their full contracts with their current teams may go. Today we’ll see if the Atlanta Hawks, a one-time rumored destination for Lin, could possibly pick him up at any point.
You will recall, the Hawks came up as a possible destination for Lin not because they wanted him, but because they were interested in Asik. Atlanta’s main dilemma at this point is that they’re in cost-cutting mode. Everything they’ve done for the past eight months has been to reduce the amount of cash they’re paying out to guys who, in all likelihood, wouldn’t be able to get the team past the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Because of that mentality, and as a result of moves that have already been made, it’s impossible for the Hawks to participate in a trade that would involve them getting both Asik and Lin. There would be way too much money coming in, and not enough going out. They could acquire one guy or the other, but not both.
So let’s assume they wanted to bring in Lin. What would that deal look like? Something like this, probably:
It would have to involve Lou Williams and a spare part. The spare part can be anyone; the Williams component, however, is fixed.
What would this net Houston? Well, it would get rid of a headache for them in Lin (because they don't know how to play him effectively, not because he's actually a headache), and bring in a quality backup for James Harden. Someone who could provide Jamal Crawford-qesque instant offense off the bench. What would it net for Atlanta? It’d give them a face to build around, someone to generate fan interest, and a legitimate point guard – something the team currently doesn’t have.
So, will this deal happen? Probably not. While Lin is an upgrade at point guard over every other one currently on the Hawks’ roster, he’s not enough of an upgrade to warrant taking on his salary. Atlanta wanted Asik for a reason – they covet his skill set. The same doesn’t hold true for Lin. And on Houston’s end, while they could use some bench bolstering, they’d prefer a point guard in return for Lin.
Bottom line: Regardless of how both teams look in December, the Rockets won’t move Lin to the Hawks.