While Jeremy Lin said a few things that makes it seem like he and the Charlotte Hornets are a match made in heaven, I think free agency and other, more suitable teams have more to offer him. However, if (and it’s a HUGE if) some conditions are met, maybe he’ll stick around for who knows how much longer.
Lin becomes THE point guard on this team (not going to happen)
For Lin to become THE point guard on the Hornets, Kemba Walker needs to be moved. Either to the bench, or to the shooting guard position. And it’s not just move. It’s being completely modified in terms of how he’s been playing since high school. THE man for his team, with the ball in his hand all the time, shooting at will, with the freedom to miss, make mistakes and never worry about getting benched. If the Hornets can promise Lin playing time and more possessions as the de facto point guard of this team, suddenly staying doesn’t sound so bad.
Steve Clifford is fired, and a coach who knows a thing or two about offense gets hired (not going to happen)
Probably not going to happen, but you never know. Clifford only turned to Lin this season when he had to, or the game, out of the coach’s control, simply went in that direction. Playing for a head coach who A) Doesn’t recognize the talent and B) Prefers a different player on the same spot no matter how much he underperforms, is a recipe to being underplayed, misused and feeling disappointed in the end. The Mike D’Antoni connection is obvious, but he’s not the only coach who will see what is Lin’s true importance and value. But is Clifford actually on the hot seat? He should be, but he probably isn’t.
They offer him an insane amount of money
What is Lin worth? Certainly not the $2’ish million he signed for. Even if he stays, he has to opt out of the deal he’s in, especially with the salary cap bump. The Hornets, at the moment, have $48 million committed to next season. What to do with the rest of the money, assuming they’re not heading into luxury tax territory? Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee and less meaningful players are all free agents. So is Lin. Putting a price on players is difficult with the salary cap moving up to around $90 million, but surely anything less than $7.5-8 million a season will be taking a serious discount. And why should he for a second straight season
He really is tired of moving
Look, we all have our opinions about every player and every team. Fans, writers, we know what’s the best thing for them. All the time. Right? Wrong. Behind the numbers and what we think are obvious choices, are people. And Lin, like a lot of other NBA players, has seen his fair share of teams, cities and oceans in the last few years. The Bay Area (after studying and playing at Harvard, which is in Boston if you didn’t know), New York City, Houston, Los Angeles and last season, Charlotte. That’s a lot of moving around, and while Lin still isn’t 28, stability might mean more to him than other things.
I personally thought that Lin’s words after game 7, talking about wanting to stay in Charlotte, not caring about money, taking a discount and all of that, had more to do with not having the perspective of more time to digest everything he’s been through this season, or perhaps saying the right thing as free agency once again looms two months from now. But maybe Lin doesn’t play around, and expects to stay, no matter what happens around him.