Lin still holds significant value and even a bit more upside, and should remain in the Rockets' starting backcourt alongside superstar James Harden for at least the 2013-14 campaign.
The contract Lin signed last offseason nets him over $8.3 million in salary in each of the next two seasons—the exact same amount as is on the books for big man Omer Asik, per Hoopsworld.com.
Even with the lucrative free-agent deal required to land prolific center Dwight Howard, general manager Daryl Morey has managed to maneuver Houston into very reasonable salary-cap position while the luxury tax is extraordinarily penal.
It's incredulous that many write off Lin so easily, because if last season was any indication, he doesn't deserve to be adjusting to his third squad in as many years in a potential trade.
Before the Howard acquisition was official last week, Hoopsworld senior writer Bill Ingram reported that the Rockets were doing their best to move Lin out of town:
This is the floor general who orchestrated the league's No. 2 scoring offense during the regular season and contributed heavily to get Houston to the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference.
Lin just averaged 13.4 points, three rebounds and just over six assists per contest in his first year in Houston—and had better than a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
What more could be asked of a point guard who plays alongside a slasher like Harden, who got to the free-throw line an Association-high 10.2 times each night and commands the ball in isolation situations so frequently?
One knock on Lin is his defense, but if he gets blown past on the perimeter, he has a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Howard on the inside to potentially bail him out. Plus, Lin isn't the only incumbent Rocket with something to be desired on that end of the court.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported on Saturday how Morey is adamant about keeping Lin in the fold, saying he's essentially been demoted to "assistant GM" by Harden and Howard:
That's a drum the general manager should keep beating for now, but there may be something to read between the lines.
Trading Lin now would likely diminish the returns the Rockets could get on him—especially after he's missed the past two postseasons with injury and has tangible concerns in that regard.
It couldn't possibly hurt to keep him in the fold, since he's familiar with Kevin McHale's uptempo system and won't have to adjust playing alongside Harden on the fly to start things off.
Not only is Lin an asset now on the court, but if he does indeed have a career year with an unprecedentedly stellar and improving supporting cast, his trade value will skyrocket.
Patrick Beverley played extremely well in place of Lin in the playoffs, and thus could very well be the starting point guard of the future.
The one other massive factor to consider: emerging star small forward Chandler Parsons, who is currently playing under his rookie contract as a former second-round pick. His less-than-$1 million salary is a big reason why the Rockets were able to assemble this stacked roster featuring Howard.
Parsons will command an extension, and according to radio personality Dave Baumann, Morey avoided pursuing Josh Smith in free agency to make room for that impending contract:
Another move Morey could make in light of Beverley's emergence is to move Lin in 2014—when Lin's contract is then expiring.
To trade him now is illogical, though, and Morey seems to know that in light of his recent stance.
But whether it's because Morey genuinely sees Lin as part of the Rockets' future championship puzzle is an entirely different matter.
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