The Houston Rockets aren’t done working this offseason on improving their team, and right now, there’s a good chance their main focus is moving a majorly misused part of their lineup last season, Jeremy Lin.
According to TheScore & Bill Ingram, moving Lin (and not Asik) seems to be the current order of business for Daryl Morey, who has said he isn’t planning on trading either player, but what GMs (and anyone related to the team) doesn’t mean anything. Considering how things played out last season for Lin, and the dominance of James Harden, not to mention Kevin McHale not looking like the point guard’s biggest fan, him getting traded can’t be ruled out.
Lin will make $8.3 million in each of the next two seasons, making him quite an expensive commodity to have if the Rockets aren’t planning on him being their first-team point guard. Lin started in all 82 games last season for the Rockets, but it was clear that James Harden is the de facto point guard most of the time, making Lin into a spot up shooter, which doesn’t exactly suit his talents.
His PER dropped from 19.9 to 14.9; His usage rating dropped from 28.1% to 20%, while his Win Share per 48 minutes dropped slightly below the league average of 0.100. This doesn’t mean Lin had a bad season – it simply goes to show he wasn’t used the right way, or simply doesn’t fit whatever the Rockets envision for this team.
On paper, having him as a point guard for Dwight Howard is a great idea. Lin spreads the ball very well, and worked quite well with Tyson Chandler, who isn’t as effective as Howard when it comes to offense, during his short explosion spurt in New York. The disturbing factor, at least when it comes to Lin, is James Harden.
Harden wants the ball in his hands. Does it mean he’s the best option for being a ball handler? Probably not. The Rockets play better basketball and spread the floor better with Lin carrying the burden of playcalling, but late in the season, as the Rockets had a chance of clinching the sixth spot in the West, their basketball became more and more individualistic, with Harden taking too much on himself.
For now, there’s not a lot of interest in Lin. Teams have their point guards, and even if they don’t, his salary and the current cap space situation make it a problem, especially via trade. The Rockets are thinking about clearing some more space in order to make another move for an All-Star player, or getting someone in return (a power forward?) they could start next to Howard in the lineup, keeping Parsons as a ‘3’.
The Rockets won’t be too sad if Lin stays – he is their best point guard, even when not used properly. For Lin himself? As long as he keeps playing next to Harden, and the team (meaning McHale and Morey) keep putting Lin in an uncomfortable spot, playing somewhere else, with a better chance of playing to his true strengths, might be a better option.