It was unthinking only nine months ago: will Jeremy Lin be traded this offseason?
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.
The advantage of this is that the Rockets will have cap space to potentially sign both Howard and Jefferson, or one plus an impact big.
Well, take this example: the Rockets do a sign-and-trade with the Jazz, who need both a point guard and someone to replace Jefferson. They get Lin and Omer Asik. If Jefferson signs for $15 million, let's say, the trade will leave Houston an additional $1.7 million under the cap.
That can go towards signing Howard straight up.
Now let's look at sign-and-trading the same two Rockets to the Lakers for Howard. That will cost the Rockets about $4 million of their cap space.
But that still leaves them plenty of room to sign a guy like Samuel Dalembert, Paul Millsap, David West, or if those options are gone, J.J. Hickson.
It's fancy-shmancy maneuvering, to be sure. But fancy-shmancy maneuvering is General Manager Daryl Morey's middle name.
Harrington barely played for the Magic this past season, and he doesn't figure into the team's plans going forward. They're either going to trade him or waive him. It's such a done deal, the team has cleared him to work out for other teams.
The Rockets would like Harrington as a backup to the center or power forward positions. But that would defeat the purpose of the trade, as Harrington's salary is $7.15 million.
Waiving Harrington would cost Houston $3.57 million for the next two years. It's a reasonably costly move, but the difference between that hit and Lin's salary would total almost $5 million in cap space.
And it's entirely possible Harrington would be receptive to an offer for less money after he's cut loose—especially if the Rockets land Howard and become contenders.
Lin would compete with Beno Udrih and longtime Magic starter Jameer Nelson for the starting guard spot. He's not an ideal piece for the Magic, but any old port in a storm: Lin in the fold would likely be greatly preferred over waiving Harrington and getting nothing in return.
The Detroit Pistons franchise has essentially become RSAA: Rodney Stuckey Addicts Anonymous. Every season, he flashes promise, and then he disappears or stops giving effort. Every season begins with the vow that it won't happen again. Every season, it does.
Brandon Knight struggled at the point even more than Lin did. At the two, though—Stuckey's spot—Knight did quite well.
The Pistons' first choice is to re-sign Jose Calderon, but if they can't, the Rockets might be able to interest the Pistons in Lin for Stuckey plus a second-round draft pick. The salaries match up perfectly. Stuckey has $4 million guaranteed, but that still means $4.4 million more in the Dwight Howard collection plate once he's waived.
The Pistons, with Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Knight, figure to be comers this season. Lin would fit in well with the group.
Timing is everything here, though, because the Rockets are going to want to go after Howard immediately, and the Pistons are likely to do the same with Calderon. This trade, however, would need to get done as quickly as possible for the Rockets.
This one is intriguing for both sides.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni had great success with Lin when both were members of the New York Knicks. He knows how to run D'Antoni's offense, and the coach trusts Lin.
Further, with Kobe Bryant sidelined, the Lakers have lost a great deal of their marketability. If they lost out on the Howard sweepstakes as well, the team would be desperate for a marketable star.
Though Steve Blake had a nice year for the Lakers, it could have been D'Antoni's system, because he's certainly a journeyman. Chris Duhon is a throw-in.
The Rockets would waive Duhon and retain Blake as a backup for $4 million. Because Duhon has $1.5 million guaranteed, the net cap space for the Rockets would be a little under $3 million. But in reaching that max cap room total, every little bit counts.
With this trade, Houston not only makes room for D12, but returns one of their own to the fold.
Phoenix is a franchise in absolutely disarray. A marketable commodity like Lin would at least give the franchise something to hang their hat on. Right now, they've got nothing.
Shannon Brown is due $1.75 million in guaranteed money; Haddadi has just $200,000. That's $2 million. Marcus Morris has a club option for $2 million.
The Rox would waive Brown and Haddadi, welcome back their old pal Morris as a now-experienced backup and an expiring contract, and save $4.4 million in cap space.
(NOTE: Too bad Luis Scola is unattainable since we amnestied him, else I would have suggested getting him back instead of Morris. Miss ya, Ice Cream Man.)