As we carry on with our review of potential landing spots for Jeremy Lin, we arrive at the Southeast division.
Lin can obviously stay with the Charlotte Hornets, a choice filled with pluses but a lot of minuses as well. Other options? Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. Spoilers? None of them seem like ideal teams for him, although most of them are heading into offseason that might bring forth a lot of changes, so it might be difficult to gauge the exact fit with each of them.
We’ll begin with the team Lin just played for, the Charlotte Hornets. We’ve been through this all season long and a bit after it ended, so we’ll keep it rather short. Lin seems to want to play for the Hornets. He gelled well with the players, the fans loved him and in between a lot of games with too few minutes and touches, he had some very big ones, which just so happened to be the best moments of basketball in 2015-2016 for the Hornets. But, and it’s a big but, Lin probably doesn’t plan on once again playing backup or inferior partner to Kemba Walker. And the Hornets aren’t going to suddenly make Walker into someone who doesn’t get the bulk of possessions and shots. We can talk about changed the Hornets could or might make, but reality dictates a different set of events unfold.
On to the team knocking the Hornets out of the playoffs, the Miami Heat. On paper, the Heat are an almost brand new team next season. They have only $49 million committed to the cap, with Goran Dragic the only guard signed on for next season. But Dwyane Wade will probably re-sign, and if those two are on the team, Lin isn’t going to see a whole lot of minutes with him as the main ball handler. The Heat also really like Josh Richardson, who played over 21 minutes per game this season. Miami are probably going to focus on signing Kevin Durant, and then handle the rest of their business. Lin could do well there, but I don’t think it’s a team that’ll give him too many minutes.
From Miami to Atlanta, team trying to figure out why LeBron James and the Cavs keep sweeping them. The Hawks had a chance to start tanking and rebuild when Joe Johnson and Josh Smith left, but built a nice team with Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford as the anchors. For now, it looks like that premise has a ceiling, and it’s going to be an offseason of trying to figure out whether to blow the team up or not. Keeping Horford is probably the key in that decision making. If both Jeff Teague (who has been constantly mentioned in trades) and Dennis Schroder (who the Hawks are probably angling to make a starter at some point) stay, Lin has nothing to look forward to in Atlanta.
From Atlanta to the nation’s capital, Washington. The Wizards were one of the more disappointing teams this season. They’re going to have a new head coach, and are another team hoping to land Durant, although considering how they looked this season, it’s not going to be in his best interest to go back to where he grew up, unless winning isn’t his main concern. Lin? Staying away from teams with a dominant point guard is probably one of his Must-Do’s for this offseason. This is Wall’s team, and Lin won’t be able to be the player he can be next to him.
We finish with the Orlando Magic, a franchise trying to figure out what they’re missing in order to become a playoff team. Just more experience? Lin could give them a lot in terms of intelligence, passing ability and shooting in the backcourt. But I’m not sure Scott Skiles is the ideal head coach for Lin, and the Magic do seem intent on making their Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo thing work. It’s an interesting choice, but probably not the ideal one for Lin.