The NBA hasn’t given up on Jeremy Lin.
But it’s not waiting for Jeremy Lin in open arms either
The NBA has changed. Lin offers something that’s quite unique in this league. However, that something unique is not regarded as valuable as it once was, especially for contenders.
The backup point guard is now a backup ball handler. It doesn’t have to be an actual point guard.
But there are other necessities for the role. Lin can fill it, but it doesn’t seem most teams in the league think he’s capable, or worth the effort/money.
The NBA hasn’t given up on him. It has simply moved on from certain needs to others. And Lin, even it is unfair to him to be judged by his short internship in Toronto, in the eyes of the teams decision makers, perhaps doesn’t check those boxes they need filled.
And there’s the question of his durability. Yes, he did appear in 74 games last season for the Hawks and Raptors. But he did miss the entire 2017-2018 season, and a big chunk of the 2016-2017 season. Is it fair that he’s being punished for past injuries when his recent health bill has been clean? Probably not.
But backup point guards need to be durable to do their job. And Lin’s outside shooting woes didn’t help (29.4% last season). Yes, he was a 35% and above shooter in years past, but as we mentioned above, his unique set of skills just doesn’t meet the same demand it used to.
Creative and willing passer? Terrific finisher at the rim? Clutch from the line? Terrific teammate and locker room presence? That package, for now, doesn’t seem as enticing as it was before.
The last chapter of Jeremy Lin’s career?
Is this the end of Lin’s NBA career? Too soon to throw such absolutes in the air. The offseason and preseason bring change with it, and so does the season. If Lin is patient, I doubt an opportunity to join an NBA team doesn’t come knocking. Maybe it already has and he prefers better offers. The ones from Europe, namely CSKA Moscow, is currently not tempting enough for him.
Was Lin wrong to leave the Hawks via buyout and join a contender? I thought career-wise it’s better for him to stay with the Hawks at the time, but it doesn’t make me right. He got opportunities from Nick Nurse and the Raptors; he just didn’t deliver what the Raptors needed. It’s hard to argue with their decision making, considering they won the title, with Fred VanVleet doing everything and more.
The NBA can be cruel. Veterans who don’t fit into a specific niche get cast aside without the bat of an eyelid. There are other relatively big names still without teams, pondering whether to give up or wait. Lin is still waiting. I don’t think he’s wrong to do it, but that rescuing offer to pull him out of his career’s rock bottom as he defined it might not be coming anytime soon.