The final chapter in our “journey” through the NBA’s divisions and finding the right fit for Jeremy Lin, if he switches teams (again) this offseason, taking a look at the teams of the Pacific division: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers.
Let’s jump right into it, and begin with the team that there’s no way Lin goes back to: The Lakers. Why? Kobe Bryant is gone. Byron Scott is gone. Luke Walton makes an interesting choice. But I don’t think Mitch Kupchak thinks much of Lin, and D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams (unless he’s traded) and Jordan Clarkson (I don’t see the Lakers letting him slip away in free agency) just eat up too many minutes of time with the ball for Lin to even consider this, before we even take into account how bad that year was for him.
Staying in town, but moving to the other side of the street. The Clippers. Their starting point guard, Chris Paul, plays about 33 minutes a night. Austin Rivers, who sometimes looks like he belongs in the D-League and other nights seems like a legitimate backup guard, is staying for another season, unless he and his dad pull a nice trick of opting out of his deal and giving him a nice, fat extension. That’s their point guard situation, while Jamal Crawford hits free agency. Lin could make an interesting option here but A)Paul plays 33 minutes a night and B) Blake Griffin loves the ball in his hands too. Lin could get minutes, but not enough of them as the point guard.
On to the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are probably one of those teams players, including Lin, who began his career with the Warriors and is from Palo Alto, are willing to take less minutes just to be on the team. Lin would fit in well here, but again, if he’s looking for a place to get plenty of minutes with the ball, the Bay Area is wrong for him. Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green. That doesn’t leave a lot of minutes to be the main ball handler. Not a lot of minutes to play in general.
The Phoenix Suns looked oh so promising until the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, and then everything fell apart. Jeff Hornacek got fired, injuries, players wanting to leave. From one of the most fun-to-watch teams in the league in the previous two years, this is a franchise with huge question marks. They have Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight sharing the backcourt. Maybe if one of them is traded, there will be room for Lin. But there’s also Devin Booker who’ll probably push Knight out. In short, the team needs help in a lot of ways, but there’s just too many players at point guard for Lin to even consider moving there.
But which teams needs a point guard, and bad? The Sacramento Kings do. Rajon Rondo is a free agent. Darren Collison doesn’t get you anywhere as a starter. Lin could cement a spot in that lineup, no problem. He’ll give them a very different look compared to Rondo, who the Kings were slightly better off without last season. But… there’s always a but, right? The Kings ownership and front office situation is a mess. The roster was put together without too much thinking, around DeMarcus Cousins in a league that doesn’t really give dominant post up centers a chance to succeed. Dave Joerger is probably a much better fit than George Karl to this team and out of all the teams in this division, Lin would get the most minutes and touches here. Will he also win the most with them? I’m not so sure.