While the NBA playoffs continue, for most of the league it’s offseason time. For players like Jeremy Lin, it’s the time in which they make decisions about their immediate future, which in his case, is whether or not to stay with the Charlotte Hornets or not.
Today we explore what the Atlantic Division (New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers) have to offer, as Lin is almost guaranteed to opt out of his deal with the Hornets for next season. While he’s saying that he’d like to stay in Charlotte, it makes more sense for him to find a new team (again), even if he is tired of moving around.
The Raptors aren’t a team Lin is going to play for. They have Kyle Lowry at the point guard position, Corey Joseph as his backup and Norman Powell eating up more backcourt minutes. Terrence Ross also gets time at shooting guard, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with DeMar DeRozan in free agency. Sure, in theory, Lin can form a backcourt with Lowry, but there has been 0 talk about Lin going to Canada, and it makes close to zero sense. No one is signing Lin as a designated shooting guard.
The Celtics are another team making very little sense for Lin. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart are all signed for next season. Playing for a smart young head coach like Brad Stevens could be great for Lin, and he’s much better than Smart. However, it once again means sitting on the bench, backing up a mainly scoring point guard while Bradley, who can play point himself, isn’t going to be moved from the lineup. Lin and Bradley could make one superb defensive duo in the backcourt, but I doubt the Celtics are thinking in that direction.
And now for teams that are mentioned in this or that way. We begin with the New York Knicks, which is where Lin got his big breakthrough in 2012, playing for Mike D’Antonio. The Knicks have basically nothing at point guard. Jose Calderon shouldn’t be starting for anyone, or play a meaningful role for a team looking to make the playoffs. Jerian Grant might turn into a more meaningful player in the future, but right now, he isn’t going to be standing in anyone’s way of becoming a starter. There’s cap space and vacancies making this an interesting return for Lin.
But Carmelo Anthony alone might be a good enough reason not to comeback. Anthony pretty openly dislikes Lin for the sole reason of stealing his thunder back in the day. I’m pretty sure Anthony is slowly losing influence with Phil Jackson, but he still means something in this organization, and I’m pretty sure he’d make it clear he doesn’t want Lin to come back and take over the Garden. If Kurt Rambis is the head coach, that’s another red flag for Lin (and a lot of other players) to stay away. James Dolan is a red flag that isn’t going away, but for now it seems his influence seems to be suppressed.
From the Knicks in Manhattan we move to the Nets in Brooklyn, a team most often mentioned with Lin recently. Why? Well, it begins with previous interest. It continues with Shane Larkin and Jarrett Jack not making much of a wall between him and the starting point guard position. And maybe more than anything it’s the hire of Kenny Atkinson as the team’s new head coach. Atkinson, who was the assistant head coach in Atlanta since 2013, was an assistant on the Knicks when Lin played there, and the connection isn’t difficult to make. Sean Marks, the team’s new general manager, is also getting high praise from everyone (it seems anyone involved with a coaching position in San Antonio gets that kind of “critique” love). But the Nets have a curious ownership situation which is always worth monitoring for players looking for less rocky ground.
And we finish with the Philadelphia 76ers. A team synonymous with failure, losing and tanking over the last three seasons. No more Sam Hinkie, The Bryan Colangelo era begins, with Brett Brown still on the sidelines, but who knows for how long. No player signed heading into next season can be confident he’ll still be there in November. Lin obviously has an opening here to be a starting point guard and maybe even a star. But there might be too much of a scorched earth situation in Philly right now, which could mean anyone in their right mind should stay away until we know this ship is finally sailing in the right direction.