The closer we get to free agency, the likelier it seems that Jeremy Lin won’t re-sign with the Charlotte Hornets, and that he might make up his decision about his next team very soon.
Reports suggest that Lin is going to meet with three different teams as the free agency officially begins, at midnight ET of July 1. The Hornets aren’t one of those teams. While they’d love to have him back, their priorities are re-signing Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. For a franchise that hates the words ‘luxury tax’, bringing Lin back at a less than discounted price is difficult to imagine. The Hornets got a gift when Lin took a two-year, $4.3 million contract last season, when he had little leverage, and was looking for a place he’d be happy in. There were good times in Charlotte, but also hints that Steve Clifford isn’t the coach to be playing for. He can make a lot more money, get more minutes and a bigger role somewhere else, so why stay?
So who are these teams? Lin referred to the New York Knicks in a recent interview, suggesting he has always left the door open for a New York return, but mentioned Derrick Rose; now that he’s there, with Lin looking to start and not just play backup to someone, the scenario isn’t ideal. The city of New York is still in the picture of course: It’s hard to imagine the Brooklyn Nets aren’t Lin’s top choice. Their new general manager (who Lin has spoken highly of) and the team situation scream that he & them are a good fit.
So besides the Nets, which teams will be going after Lin right off the bat? Likely those without a stake in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. The Dallas Mavericks waited too long with Lin last year and lost him. Deron Williams opted out of his contract, making the situation a little bit clearer in regards to their point guard. Lin could do very well there under Rick Carlisle and maybe even reunite with Chandler Parsons, who is a free agent once again.
The Chicago Bulls are an interesting choice. Now that there’s no Rose, and not a lot of anything besides Jimmy Butler and a head coach who wants to finally make the team play like he envisions basketball, Lin could find a very welcoming home in Chicago. There are questions about Butler’s leadership and the overall relationship between the front office, Hoiberg and the team’s star. However, if those are OK, Lin could find himself in an excellent situation.
Ricky Rubio is allegedly on the trading block. The Minnesota Timberwolves like Zach LaVine, but not as a starting point guard. He’s simply not that kind of player. If Rubio is really going to be dealt, Lin would be a great piece there. Athletic, young, talented, on the rise, and finally, maybe, with a point guard who can shoot, without losing defensive abilities or passing vision and creativity.
The mix won’t be completed without mentioning the Houston Rockets. Yes, James Harden and Daryl Morey are still there. But Mike D’Antoni is there too. Will these be the old or new Rockets? New or old basketball? Lin can’t fit in with both, and might not even want to risk it. As he said, he’s looking for a long term stay, somewhere, tired of bouncing around the league and the country. The Rockets just have too many warning signs, but maybe things look different from Palo Alto. We’ll know pretty soon.