The Charlotte Hornets possibly made one of the best free agent deals this offseason by signing Jeremy Lin for what is basically an upgraded veteran’s minimum salary, hopefully for both him and them, putting him in the right kind of situation and system to bring out his best.
An interesting article on the largest pay declines from last season puts Lin near the top of the list when measuring it by his actual salary last season ($14.9 million) and not the cap hit ($8.3 million). Only Amar’e Stoudemire, who’ll be making $1.5 million for the Miami Heat this season, is “losing” more money than Lin, dropping from a a massive $20.9 million last season at the tail end of his massive contract.
Many were surprised that Lin took a two-year deal worth $4.3 million, paying him $2.139 million in 2015-2016. Sure, Lin didn’t have the best of seasons with the Lakers but this did happen due to certain circumstances that I’m pretty sure most of the league isn’t blind to. In any case, even when playing under a head coach that did everything in his power (and also indirectly) to push him down, Lin managed to average 11.2 points and 4.6 assists per game, which was even a slight improvement in terms of per minute and per possession numbers following his Rockets tenure.
It’s interesting to find out how the Hornets will use Lin. They’ve been looking for more shooting for quite some time, but this is about more than that. It’s about having a player who doesn’t just attack the rim and create for himself like Kemba Walker, but a player, point guard or not, who creates for others and should be carrying on with his ascent in 3-point shooting numbers, making 36.9% of them last season.
The Hornets have a big man worth doubling up in the paint in Al Jefferson. They have Walker who forces defenses to collapse into the paint. Lin himself does it very well, although he still needs to work on his tendencies to take risky decisions in traffic, leading to turnovers. He has plateaued in that aspect at 4.4 turnovers per 100 possessions. He was only 48th last season in Assist per turnover ratio (2.25) and part of the progress we want to see from him involves improving that aspect of his game.
Defining the success of a signing isn’t just about the production the team gets from a player, but it also has to do with the value and salary paid to that player. Lin comes in with less expectations than he had on his shoulders when he started in Houston and in Los Angeles, but for the first time since his New York days, he’s probably in a situation with the projected offense and teammates will help him thrive instead of limit him. It’s still not the perfect situation for Lin, but after his woes of the last three years, this still feels like a step up.