The Houston Rockets made teams aware of Jeremy Lin being available via trade this offseason, only no one thought that at the moment, he was worth adding for pieces, not to mention his salary. So the point guard who has seen somewhat of a deflation in his value over the last season due to playing next to the wrong player while performing in the wrong part is staying for now, but nothing is permanent.
For the Rockets to give up on the idea of trading Lin eventually so they can get whatever part they believe will be more beneficial for their championship hopes, Lin needs to have something on an All-Star start to the season. The only way that happens is if the Rockets start putting the ball in his hand, and give him a lot more opportunities to show his ball handling and game management skills. It doesn’t mean James Harden isn’t important anymore – he’s still their number one guard, or guy in general, depending how much you value Dwight Howard, only the ball will be out of his hands more than he got used to last season.
The dynamic will certainly change next season with Howard in the paint. Both players will be required to start pushing the ball into the post a lot more, or work on pick & rolls, which suits both their styles, feeding the rolling man. If that is truly the case, Lin will thrive, or at least do better than he did last season. Not that he did badly: 13.4 points and 6.1 assists is nothing to be ashamed about, but before Harden landed Lin seemed like the team’s top free agency pickup, and the expectations didn’t drop when Harden arrived, hence the sense of disappointment.
Houston have quite an easy start, at least on the road, which means that through the first 30 games of the season they have the opportunity to build quite a cohesive and confident starting lineup as the enter the more crucial stages of the season. Lin, so far as we and everyone else know, is not going to be losing his starting position. Despite Patrick Beverley being some sort of revelation in the playoffs, the most impressive thing he did was taking out Russell Westbrook from the series with his knee, giving the Rockets a chance to make it a little bit closer.
One bad postseason and people forget Lin was the second or third best player for the Rockets last season, and on some night the most important player on the floor. Yes, even when somewhat relegated to being a spot up shooter, he had enough touches and quality to make the difference between a team that’s a slave to Kevin McHale being the most unimaginative play caller around and a group that can actually play some team-basketball, showing nice spacing and spreading of the ball.
Lin isn’t going to get too much attention early on. Harden is at the level where he’s one of the biggest stars in the NBA, and not just because of the beard. Dwight Howard brings attention wherever he goes. Lin can take a step back in terms of getting noticed, and maybe pull himself out of that state he’s in right now, which is being a player that gets written and talked about a lot more than his numbers warrant.