While there’s an assumption that Jeremy Lin going wherever Mike D’Antonio goes will be great for his career, his former head coach taking the Houston Rockets job doesn’t mean he should follow him. Not while there’s James Harden on that team.
D’Antoni has been working as an interim head coach this season with the Philadelphia 76ers. His hiring resulted in some improvement on the NBA’s worst team, but a short lived one. Besides, it was quite clear he wasn’t going to stick around and be something undetermined next to Brett Brown. It seems D’Antoni has been far away as necessary from his last, bad season on the Los Angeles Lakers (not sure how much of it was his fault) to position himself and get a head coach job.
There are two remaining vacancies in the NBA (although you never know who else might get fired by the time the playoffs are over): One in Houston and the other in Memphis. Both teams made the playoffs but got booted out in the first round, as expected we might add. The Rockets seem to be deciding between D’Antoni and Stephen Silas. The Grizzlies are choosing between a pool of assistants, although Lionel Hollins, their former head coach, has also been mentioned as a candidate.
We’ve mentioned the Grizzlies being a possible fit for Lin, but that’s a matter for another time. Our focus here is Houston, which is plagued with the presence of Harden. Why plagued? Because Harden is one of these players who are immensely talented, but are allowed to do too much, which ends up hurting their own team. Maybe Harden wields too much power courtesy of Daryl Morey and the ownership. Maybe he hasn’t had the kind of coach who can put him in his place.
Lin played next to Harden for two years. Harden actually liked Lin from the little we could tell; this wasn’t a Carmelo Anthony thing of trying to push him out of the way. But Harden doesn’t want anyone and anything taking away possessions from him and for Lin, who had his impressive moments in Houston but also some he would like to forget, this kind of backcourt partnership simply doesn’t make sense at this stage of his career.
Like in a lot of future Lin scenarios, there’s a big if. If D’Antoni gets hired, and if he manages to force his system on the team, which has been following the Morey plan for the last few years, and if he’s capable of changing Harden, turning him into more of a shooting guard, or at least a player who can contribute and manage without the ball in his hands 24/7, Lin could consider returning to Houston.
But the last few conditions sound like high fantasy, nothing else. While it would be nice to see Lin reunite with D’Antoni, he has a similar kind of potential reunion in Brooklyn waiting for him, on a team that fits his style and talents a lot more than Houston.