The only way the Houston Rockets get that third star player is if they trade both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin for one player, and that Asik isn’t going to be moved. While the Rockets are rumored to be searching for a trade to get rid of Lin, they really shouldn’t.
Jeremy Lin hasn’t shown any discontent with the arrival of Dwight Howard, unlike Omer Asik, who clearly isn’t happy because this directly trims his playing time and starter-status. To get a big contract, put up a double double season and then become a bench player again (Even though Kevin McHale has said more than once he’ll be playing next to Howard more than people think) wasn’t in his plan.
And what about Lin? After leaving the New York Knicks and signing with the Houston Rockets, it looked like his time to shine for an entire season instead of a come-out-of-nowhere spurt in the middle of the season. And then James Harden came, and Lin, who suddenly became a second option as ball handler and mostly used in spot-up options, which wasn’t the plan as well.
Lin is making $5 million next season, but his salary cap hit is $8.3 million, and teams willing to take on such a contract (two more years on the deal) are those with a direct objective to make such a player into a starting point guard. From what we’ve heard, there doesn’t seem to be that kind of taker for Lin, or at least nothing with something the Rockets would benefit from having.
But should the Rockets be trading Jeremy Lin? Probably not. He did much better for them than the 13.4 points and 6.1 suggest, especially when the ball was in his hands. It’s not a matter of numbers and points, because obviously, he’ll lose to James Harden in that department. It’s about how the Rockets looked as a team, when it comes to ball movement, passing and spacing the floor when Lin was calling the shots instead of Harden.
Right now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Lin becoming the leader of the second unit, while Patrick Beverley becomes the starting point guard next to James Harden. The Rockets have a lot of options in terms of playing big & small, and also have a defensively sound player like Asik on their second unit, which would make Lin much less of a perimeter hazard in such a scenario.
What’s best for Lin, Asik and the Rockets might be a three-part-answer. The Rockets would obviously benefit from having both of them on the team for at least one more season, without a player of the star caliber they can use them to bring over.
As for Lin, the predictions and projections for the rest of his career vary wildly. The optimists think his vision and ability with the ball put him on par with Steve Nash or even John Stockton, but there’s a very long way for him before becoming a hall-of-fame caliber point guard. Getting a starting job he can keep and actually play point guard in for an entire season is a start, but becoming some sort of sixth man option might not be the worst next stop for him.
A lot of it depends on Dwight Howard, and how much he wants to play the Pick & Roll. According to Steve Nash, who didn’t seem to be interested in taking shots at Howard like Bryant and the rest of anyone who calls himself a Laker, part of the problem was Howard tired of being in that P&R style, wanting to get the ball a lot more in the post.
There’s nothing wrong with mixing it up, but Howard has to play to his strengths, especially with the kind of guards he’ll be playing with. With Harden, there will be competition over shots and time with the ball. However, with Lin, who is very effective in the pick & roll and sees the floor better than anyone else on the Rockets, Howard will flourish, if he’s willing to do what he allegedly refused to last season.