Jeremy Lin: Houston Rockets' Gamble Will Pay off Big on and off the Court
The Houston Rockets took a chance by inking point guard Jeremy Lin to a three-year offer sheet that the New York Knicks chose not to match, especially given the nearly $15 million that Lin will make in the third year of that deal.
However, there are ample reasons to believe that this was a decision that the Rockets will be glad they made when that third year rolls around and it's time to write that gaudy check.
The Rockets are in the midst of overhauling their roster, making significant changes in an effort to turn a perennial also-ran into a potential contender in the Western Conference, even if it takes them a couple of seasons for that transition to really take root.
In Lin, the Rockets acquired a player still growing into his game, but one that showed during last season's "Linsanity" phenomenon in the Big Apple that he's more than capable of putting points on the board.
Lin was even more effective in doing so when he wasn't effectively forced to try to get the ball to petulant superstar Carmelo Anthony, and with no marquee name in Houston (besides Lin), the Rockets have no reason not to let Lin be the (almost) out-of-control whirling dervish that he was when he was at his best with the Knicks, at least for the time being.
In the meantime, Lin can work on improving the other facets of his game, and with experience it's reasonable to believe that Lin can become a better facilitator and cut down on the turnovers.
This growth process will be much easier in Houston than it would have been in New York, as even given Lin's popularity, there's no way that the spotlight in Texas can come close to approaching the glare of the one in New York.
As to Lin's rather, um, "suspect" defense? It should improve as well, but even if he remains a below-average defensive player, so what? So is Steve Nash. And Jason Kidd. They turned out OK.
Then there's the matter of what Lin brings to the Rockets off the court, and it's there that the Rockets will likely recoup their investment in the 23-year-old, with interest.
In the short time since Lin unexpectedly burst onto the scene in the NBA, he's already become one of the league's most popular players, a point that was driven home to new teammate Chandler Parsons after the pair went out to dinner in Houston recently, according to KTSP.com.
The two were interrupted on Wednesday night 15 to 20 times, by Parsons’ estimate, by fans who recognized Lin and wanted an autograph or a photo. Parsons, who played in all but three games for Houston last season, was virtually ignored.
"I was a little insulted," Parsons said. "But that’s exciting. You want someone like that on your team to bring fans, you want sold-out games. You want the attention like that. The more attention he has, the more attention the Houston Rockets have."
Then there's the matter of the "China factor." The Rockets are already arguably the most popular team in the world's most populous nation as a result of Yao Ming's time with the team. By signing Lin, who is of both Chinese and Taiwanese descent, the Rockets can maintain their hold on the hearts and minds of the Chinese people, of which there are about a billion or so.
All those fans of Jeremy Lin, whether they live in Corpus Christi or Chongqing, buy tickets, Rockets merchandise or both.
If you think that wasn't a significant consideration for the Houston Rockets, then I have a lovely bridge I can offer you at a greatly reduced rate.
It's entirely possible that Jeremy Lin will never become more than an average NBA player. With that said, the NBA is filled with overpaid average players, most of whom don't have legions of fans, international marketing appeal and their own catchphrase.
However, it's also possible that the rest of Lin's game may catch up with his unconventional but effective offensive prowess, and if that occurs, the Rockets' acquisition of Jeremy Lin will go from savvy personnel move to absolute steal.
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