Nothing about Jeremy Lin's NBA career has been certain and that's not going to change now.
"I have two starting point guards," he said, making reference to Lin and second-year man Patrick Beverley.
After signing Lin to a lucrative three-year contract in 2012, he would seem like the obvious choice. But Dwight Howard's addition coupled with Houston's continued refusal to deal Omer Asik has created a lineup dilemma.
Houston plans to experiment with Howard at power forward and Asik at center, a floor-spacing nightmare for the Rockets, who were second in three-pointers attempted last season (2,369). Starting two bigs jeopardizes their preferred method of attack.
Further complicating matters is James Harden, who's a serviceable shooter but prefers to work with the ball in his hands. Floor generals capable of playing heavy minutes off the ball make more sense next to him than another ball-dominator, especially with Howard and Asik in the same starting lineup.
Shooting isn't Lin's strength. He shot only 33.9 percent from deep in 2012-13 and according to Synergy Sports (subscription required), converted just 38.7 percent of all his spot-up attempts. Beverley found more success as a shooter and off-ball scorer, burying 37.5 percent of his treys and 42.2 percent of his spot-up tries (41.8 percent from downtown).
For a starting lineup that will push the limits of lane blockage as it is, Beverly presents the better option, something Lin appears to understand.
"We have different strengths," Lin said, via Creech. "[Beverley] is such a good defender and shooter. I am better with the ball in my hands, attacking."
McHale also noted that it doesn't matter who starts, since both players will receive ample playing time anyway.
"As a player, I always found it irrelevant," he said, per Creech. "I came off the bench in a lot of games. What is the big difference in playing 27.5 minutes off the bench and 26 minutes as a starter?"
Realistically, there should be none. Playing time should matter more than anything, point of entry included.
Starting matters to some players above all else, but the Rockets can't afford to have Lin or Beverley take issue with that. As Howard points out, this problem should be looked at as a good one to have.
"It's a good problem to have two guys that are capable of coming in and making plays and starting," Howard explained, per Creech. "I think they just shouldn't worry about who starts."
"In all honesty, we will be trying different lineups in November and December," McHale added. "We have so many movable parts on this team, and we still have a lot of decisions to make."
This particular decision is one the Rockets must get right. They'll already playing with fire at power forward and center, and can't afford to get burned at another position too.