Jeremy Lin: Did Houston Rockets Owner Sabotage Franchise by Signing Linsanity?

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

Oct 17, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (7) dribbles against the Memphis Grizzlies during the third quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

The saga continues.

Perhaps you thought that the New York Knicks would move on, or that the Houston Rockets would remain quiet. Or perhaps you simply believed that the Jeremy Lin debacle had run its course, that the NBA and the rest of the basketball world would simply let this go.

But New York didn't, Houston hasn't, and the NBA won't.

More than three months after Lin joined the Rockets, his overly scrutinized, albeit wildly unique, situation continues to gain momentum. 

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN the Magazine, if the Houston organization isn't busy questioning his rehabilitation efforts, it's busy doubting the motives behind his acquisition:

As his struggles this preseason might indicate, Houston could end up regretting the contract it gave him. League sources have told me the Rockets' basketball people were never as high on Lin as ownership. I'm told that Rockets owner Leslie Alexander really pushed for the Lin signing, much more than the basketball side of the organization.

Lin is a solid player, but I don't believe he's a future star and certainly not one deserving of all the hoopla he has generated. I hope it works out for Lin, but because he's limited -- and because of the super target on his back that Felton referred to -- I think he could be a disappointment.

Signing Lin was always going to be a risk, whether it was the Knicks, Rockets or Charlotte Bobcats that did it. But there's a certain level of validity and justification behind the thinking of the anonymous sources.

Why, when the Rockets already had the ability to retain two above-average point guards, would the team opt to not only target, but essentially outbid the Knicks for an unproven Lin?

Bear in mind that Houston just missed out on the postseason last year, finishing two games behind the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz, a feat they accomplished while navigating the minefield that was Kyle Lowry's health bill.

Yet all of a sudden, the Rockets blew it up. Goodbye, Luis Scola. Have fun in Canada, Mr. Lowry. Best of luck to you with the Phoenix Suns, Goran Dragic. Sayonara, Courtney Lee. 

Which begs the question. Why? Why did Houston opt to decimate its roster in favor of the uncertain reality that was waiting for them? Was it the allure of Dwight Howard? Did Lowry's unhappiness fuel the Rockets' impulsive actions? 

Or was it Leslie Alexander's infatuation with the precarious floor general?

Now we're talking.

Like most other basketball minds, Houston's brain trust doubted Lin's ability to lead a playoff cause, questioned his potential as a player and remained skeptical of his value as a pillar.

But Alexander pushed, and he got what he wanted—a floor general whose potential is as clear as dishwater, yet is bona fide cash cow all the same.

Are we supposed to believe that this had nothing to do with money? Lin's value from a marketing standpoint is absurd—he was projected to boost New York's revenue steam by $50 million leading into this season. Are we honestly supposed to accept that didn't factor into Alexander's fascination with Lin?

I can't deny that no one knows what Lin's true ceiling is, which means as a basketball prospect, he may have actually peaked the interest of Houston's owner. But I, in no way, believe Alexander throws three years and $25 million at Lin if he doesn't stand to make bank upon his arrival.

And yet, the methodology behind Alexander's reasoning doesn't matter now. Lin is in Houston, and the Rockets are now left to pick up the pieces.

While we cannot accurately gauge Lin's ceiling at this point, he has been nothing short of awful during the preseason. In four games, the 24-year-old is averaging 5.8 points, two rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game while shooting 25 percent from the field.

Lin's most impressive outing thus far came against the Memphis Grizzlies when he dropped 12 dimes. Yet those assists came with just seven points on 33 percent shooting from the field.

Is such production reminiscent of a star or even a point guard who is capable emerging as a foundation that can be built upon?

Hardly. Yet it's still early, and to call Lin a bust already would be as premature as the star-caliber hype he generated courtesy of Linsanity.

But it is completely acceptable to doubt Alexander's logic and to question the direction of this team.

Last season, Houston put a postseason-worthy product on the floor. This year, though? The Rockets will be battling for a top position in the draft lottery.

And while no one was expecting the team to win a title this season, a fall from grace didn't seem to be in the cards either. Houston has essentially gone from a playoff contender boasting a roster of balanced youth and experience to a rebuilding entity void of a leader and measurable potential.

For Lin, a player who has appeared in less than 70 NBA games, a player that the team itself once passed on.

Because of Alexander.

It doesn't matter if the Rockets' original target was Howard. The fruits of their fire sale culminated in Lin, who we were led to believe was the one who got away.

Now, however, after witnessing how much further Lin must travel to broach the realm of competency and entertaining the sentiments put forth by those close to the organization, it's clear that isn't the case at all.

Lin isn't the one who got away, he's the one who got in the way.

Because it's near impossible to argue that the Rockets are better off with Lin right now than they were with Lowry or Dragic. There is no way that this team, promising prospects and all, match, or even come close to matching, 34 wins; this season won't serve as a beacon of hope, a ray of light or even a semblance of improvement—it will represent a giant step backwards.

But then again, we're supposed to believe that Lin's acquisition wasn't about today, it was about tomorrow, it was about the future.

A future that looked a whole lot brighter without Lin.



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