If anyone needed another indication that the Brooklyn Nets will be going after Jeremy Lin in free agency, comes the news of the Nets putting Jarrett Jack on the trading block.
Maybe this is speculation. It’s simply a matter of connecting the dots: Lin and has strong personal connections to the Nets, mostly in the form of new head coach Kenny Atkinson, who worked with Mike D’Antoni in New York during the time Lin broke out in what is known as ‘Linsanity’. Since then Atkinson has been an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, which is another reason players like Al Horford and Kent Bazemore have been connected to the Nets. The Nets need a point guard. Lin is a point guard, contrary to what some head coaches around the league think, and is looking for a starting job.
Atkinson recently said that the Nets will be going after free agents who are flying a little bit under the radar, which is pretty much everyone except for Kevin Durant and maybe Hassan Whiteside, and that he thinks past relationships with players can play a big part in who they go after and sign. Lin, Horford, Bazemore? All players who have worked with Atkinson, and probably fit what he’s trying to do in Brooklyn, which would be a very different compared to recent years.
Lin is reportedly meeting with three teams once the free agency period begins. There’s no word on who the teams are, but it’ll be very surprising if the Nets aren’t a part of the shortlist: They fit in with all the criterias Lin is probably setting for himself: Money, role, system, not necessarily in that order. There are other teams that can give him that, but for now, it just seems like the Nets fit in perfectly with the next step in Lin’s career. Maybe too perfectly?
The Nets have already moved Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for two draft picks. Now they’re putting Jack, on the hook for $6.3 million next season is his contract becomes guaranteed (it won’t), by doing so clearing more than $18 million of cap space. The Nets will take a $500,000 cap hit if Jack is released, which they’ll probably do if no one makes the trade for him, which isn’t surprising: He’s turning 33 at the beginning of the season, and is coming off an ACL injury that made him miss half the season.
Without Jack, the only other point guard on the Nets roster is Isaiah Whitehead, who they got in the NBA draft through the 42nd overall pick and the Utah Jazz. Whitehead is more of a combo guard anyway, and not a threat to anyone who signs with the Nets regarding the starting point guard position. Lin might not be the only point guard signed by the Nets, who have only $39 million committed to next season with the salary cap at $94 million, once Jack isn’t on the team anymore. With Lin being one of the top 3 point guards in this free agency class (and maybe the best one if you look at his numbers as a starter), it’s hard to believe that the Nets will sign him and not make him their starting point guard, if he actually goes to Brooklyn.