It isn’t that surprising that in their attempts to get Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets are thinking about trading away Omer Asik, who is too expensive to have as a backup center, but Jeremy Lin is also being shopped around, trying to get rid of his salary while hoping to get a starting point guard instead who doesn’t demand the ball as much because he’ll be playing next to James Harden.
It’s all about Howard at the moment – The Rockets are sending in all their big guns, including James Harden, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale, not to mention GM Daryl Morey, to try and convince Howard right off the bat that Houston is the place for him, able to offer him a four-year, $88 million deal.
If Howard does sign, the Rockets, who have already made quite a few clearing moves in order to accommodate the center (releasing Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks), will carry on in that fashion, trading either of Asik and Lin, both signed last season on the exact same deal, keeping them for two more seasons on $8.3 million a year.
Why Lin and Asik? The Rockets will need more cap space to bring Howard over, and this means someone has to move. While their backup center situation isn’t exactly solid (no one, really), Asik, is too expensive to keep on the bench, and should have quite a lot of takes after his first season as a starter, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. He isn’t the defender Howard is, and obviously not the offensive force Howard can be when he gets his touches.
Lin has been a different subject. He averaged a respectable 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game, but the ball was too often out of his hands, as James Harden was the de facto point guard for too many possessions in the opinion of some. Lin became more of a spot up shooter, and while having a decent hand from the outside (33.9% from three) he was clearly under or misused by the Rockets last season.
There’s also the case of Patrick Beverly, who fits what they ran last year (which is simply isolation and kick out the ball when Harden feels like it) more than Lin does, not to mention is getting paid only $1.7 million for the next couple of seasons, total. He was a lot more efficient than an injured Lin during the first round series with the Thunder (11.8 points per game), and feels more comfortable being the spot-up guy.
Lin will have buyers, and not just for his ability. He is worth millions when it comes to his marketability, and is probably a lot better player when he gets more responsibility offensively. The problem for Lin is finding a team willing to give him a chance to run the point without interference, while maybe being a sixth man could develop into an interesting situation for him. Asik is a lot more one-dimensional, but any team needs a big man who can rebound well and still has some undiscovered upside.