As the beginning of free agency approaches, it’s a good opportunity to review the Jeremy Lin situation. Not the teams he might sign for, we’ve done that, but go over the motives that drive him and free agents in general as they head into that crucial period of choosing the right team and contract.
Money: The biggest incentive and driving force in most cases. Not just in the NBA, but in every job market in the world. For Lin, however, it’s a different situation. He’s probably going to be paid slightly less than his previous deal ($8.3 million per year), but it might not be the team that offers him the most money that lands him. Playing time and being given the right role is more important to him.
Championship: Usually applies more to veterans who haven’t been able to win or make a run at the title, taking a smaller piece of the pie in order to be part of a contender, while also playing a smaller role than usual. Lin isn’t in that stage yet. While playing on a good team is always nice, it’s probably not the first or even second thing guiding him towards the decision he’ll be making.
Playing Time: The most important thing for Lin, who was downgraded over the last two seasons to a bench player for mostly not being a favorite of the head coaches he played under. Playing time doesn’t actually mean starting role, although that’s always nice, but more about the actual fit he’ll have in a team, and whether or not they’re counting on him to be a point guard, and not just a player who hangs around, watching others do a worse job than him.
There’s no clear prime candidate at the moment. Quite a few teams have been rumored to be interested, but some of that interest depends on those teams moving other players via trades. In most free agency periods, as in this one, most teams wait for the big moves to be made and then start filling the other spots.
A lot of NBA teams are going after LaMarcus Aldridge. Some of them, like the Dallas Mavericks, are very interested in Lin as well. Once the Aldridge saga (and other free agent deals) are over, teams will probably make way for other slots they see as less important and in need of filling out.
From the Golden State Warriors who don’t offer a big role and lots of minutes but do bring the chance to play for a championship and in front of an ultra-supportive crowd, to a team like the Denver Nuggets that’s not going to be aiming very high next season but might be offering Lin the best chance for him to play a lot of minutes without anyone disturbing him, there’s a wide variety of options out there for him to choose from.
Lin has a lot of responsibility resting on his shoulders. Not just because he needs to get it right for himself and avoid another bad scenario. Lin is one of the most fun to watch players in the league when he’s hot, and it’s a shame if his ability will go to waste (not completely, but mostly) for another season just because he landed on another team that doesn’t know how to make the best use of him.