Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios and Landing Spots for Jeremy Lin
Accept that, because you know the Rockets have. He has two years and close to $17 million left on his deal and is far removed from the days of Linsanity.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, that's not going to prevent Houston from trying to deal him. Emboldened by their pursuit of Dwight Howard, the Rockets have decided to entertain (beg for?) offers for their starting point guard.
Lin's contract isn't one many suitors will seek out unless contacted first, but at just over $8 million a season, his salary remains a serviceable price to pay for a starting floor general in today's NBA.
Draft picks and younger assets will likely have to be sent to any team to which the Rockets ship Lin, a reality Houston has probably already come to terms with. Packaged with the right combination of players and picks, however, the Rockets may be able to exploit the needs of other teams.
Which franchises could serve as potential landing spots for the not-star-a-star caliber point man?
Negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement will be difficult, but far from impossible.
4. Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: PG Jeremy Lin
Houston Rockets Receive: PG Ramon Sessions
Straight-up swaps are rare, but I like this one.
Initially, the Utah Jazz were going to make an appearance here, but Berger reports the Rockets are in search of trading Lin for another point guard. Marvin Williams' expiring deal wouldn't be enough then and I'd hope Utah is above dealing Alec Burks away for a gamble like Lin.
Sessions' contract comes off the books after next season, presenting Houston with some additional financial flexibility heading into the summer of 2014. Dwight Howard or not, the Rockets could still use some extra funds to round out their roster in a deep free-agency class.
Unlike Lin, Sessions doesn't need the ball in his hands. Not that he's a lethal spot-up shooter (30.8 percent from deep last season), because he's not. He is, however, more active than Lin is off the rock.
To Charlotte's credit, Michael Jordan is trying to make a splash. Berger has the Bobcats linked to free agent Al Jefferson and bringing Lin into the mix alongside Kemba Walker would certainly increase their appeal from a marketing standpoint.
As will become the theme, Lin seems like a better fit on a team prepared to rebuild. With the Bobcats, there won't be as much pressure to win and perhaps he'll finally be able to escape what was really an unrealistic set of expectations that he was being measured against.
Referring to Lin as a bust is still unfair at this point. Development is the key for him moving forward, and Charlotte can offer him far more time to hone his craft than Houston.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks Receive: C Omer Asik, PG Jeremy Lin and a future first-round pick
Houston Rockets Receive: F Josh Smith (sign-and-trade)
J-Smoove has always been Plan B for the Rockets if Dwight doesn't choose them, but this deal allows them to explore Plan C—pairing Harden with Howard and Smith.
Taking back Lin's contract isn't something the Hawks will actively seek to do, but if it can land them a double-double threat like Asik to place alongside Al Horford and net them a future first-round pick in the process, they might not be opposed to it.
Unless Atlanta strikes it big in free agency a la Howard (unlikely), Jeff Teague isn't going anywhere. He's a starting-caliber point guard, the kind that won't be benched for Lin. Running with a hybrid backcourt of Lin and Teague shouldn't be out of the question, though.
Obtaining Lin isn't the goal here for the Hawks. Remember that. Attaching themselves to Asik and laying claim to an additional first rounder is what Houston must sell them on.
Speaking of Houston, Smith is drawing interest from the Rockets for obvious reasons. His defense, shot-blocking, rebounding and scoring prowess makes him as one of the more desirable two-way forwards in the game. The thought of pairing him with Harden, Parsons and potentially Howard has analytics guru Daryl Morey throwing statistical observations out the window. Never before have the Rockets been so apt to name chasing.
Other assets may have to change hands here; this is just a preliminary framework. Realistically, the ability of the Rockets to pawn such a package off on Atlanta is directly related to the Hawks' interest in Asik.
Dissect these parameters accordingly.
2. Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics Receive: C Omer Asik, PF Terrence Jones, PG Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick
Houston Rockets Receive: PG Rajon Rondo and SF Gerald Wallace
Lin may not be the ideal point guard for Boston, but Danny Ainge can look at it as trading away three-years and $30 million worth of Wallace for two years and roughly $17 million for a starting point guard.
Consider what is preventing the Celtics from trading Rondo as well. Rebuilding teams need to give fans a reasons to come watch the games. Right now, Rondo is Boston's reason. Lin may not be a viable replacement on the court, but his continued global reach can keep seats filled.
Landing Asik is something that should interest a Celtics team that is still void of any formidable size. Once upon a time, for like a second, Kris Humphries was a double-double machine, yet he can't crash the glass as effectively against seven footers the way, you know, an actual seven footer can.
Jones had a successful stint in the D-League during his rookie season and adds a promising stretch 4 to Boston's roster. The first-round pick is useful for obvious reasons, as the Celtics continue to collect them like trading cards.
In Rondo, the Rockets would have a starting point guard who they could insert next to Harden and potentially Howard. Even if superman re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers or heads elsewhere, a trio of Parsons, Rondo and Harden is still intriguing.
A ball-dominating point man isn't necessarily what's best for Harden, but he made it work next to Russell Westbrook. Rondo is also a pass-first floor general, changing things considerably.
Wallace's contract is a necessary evil if Houston wishes to land Rondo and could potentially enable the Rockets to remove the first-round pick from this equation if Ainge becomes giddy at the thought of shedding Crash's deal alone.
Alone, Lin isn't going to net the Rockets another star. Placed alongside the right assets and willingness to provide financial relief, though, he just might.
1. Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons Receive: PG Jeremy Lin and future second-round pick
Houston Rockets Receive: PG Jose Calderon
Berger acknowledges Detroit as a potential landing spot for Lin and it's not hard to see why.
The Pistons need a starting point guard and there are far worse things than watching Lin run pick-and-rolls with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Like watching Rodney Stuckey or Brandon Knight attempting to do it, for instance.
Pushing 32, Calderon doesn't factor into Detroit's long-term plan, whatever that may be. Lin's contract comes off the books after next season, becoming valuable trade bait as an expiring deal in 2014. Ergo, the commitment on the Pistons' behalf would be minimal.
Detroit could try to extract a future first rounder from Houston in the deal, but it's unlikely Morey allows that to happen. Adding Lin should be enough, really. He doesn't jeopardize any future plans the Pistons have (signing J-Smoove [please don't, Joe Dumars] does).
One has to imagine that the Rockets pull the trigger on this deal in a heartbeat. Calderon is a pass-first point man who can also be used as a spot-up shooter when Harden attacks the rim. Envisioning a potential pick-and-roll tandem consisting of him and Howard is also so entertaining, it should be illegal. Should Howard head elsewhere, Calderon's pick-and-roll savvy is still an asset next to the oft-clumsy Asik.
Approached with a proposal similar to this, the Pistons have to consider it. They may even wind up accepting, leaving Lin to develop on a team more keen on rebuilding at the moment, which is where he belongs anyway.