It's not like Jeremy Lin's year was a total failure. But it was shaky and inconsistent enough, especially when its combined with the unmitigated disaster that was his playoff performance.
Factor in the fact that Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale appears enamored with the unexpectedly competent play of free agent signee Patrick Beverley. It all adds up to something unthinkable last summer: Lin is arguably a disposable asset now for the Rockets.
Thus there is the possibility that Houston, likely in need of more money for their almost certain max-salary deal to a free agent like Dwight Howard, might look for a trade partner for Lin.
The Rockets aren't jumping up and down about parting with Lin. After all, he''s arguably their most popular player, albeit their most polarizing as well. And he's a major plus in the locker room with a stellar attitude.
Lin will undoubtedly work on his game this summer and come back improved next year. And whether it's in Houston or elsewhere, with enough improvement Lin could still become an above-average point guard.
But Houston's expectations have changed dramatically since last summer. Instead of a team hoping to break .500, they're now a team that seems just a couple of pieces away from seriously contending.
The Rockets can do one of three things with Lin in an effort to land Howard:
- waive him and utilize the stretch provision, spreading Lin's remaining $16.75 million over the next five years;
- make Lin part of a sign-and-trade with one of the free agents they're courting;
- find a partner who's under the cap and trade for a non-guaranteed contract plus a draft pick; they'd then waive the contract, freeing up cap space
We'll discuss the latter two options.
Bear in mind, Lin's salary against the cap is $8.375 million for the next two years.