Best Potential Landing Spots for Jeremy Lin in a Houston Rockets Trade

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 10, 2014

Best Potential Landing Spots for Jeremy Lin in a Houston Rockets Trade

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets are doing an entirely different version of dreaming big than the one that initially netted them Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik on back-loaded contracts in 2012.

    After snatching perennial All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard over the past two offseasons, the Rockets have now set their sights on versatile free-agent big man Chris Bosh. Houston has reportedly put a four-year, $88 million offer in front of him, per ESPN The Magazine's Chris Boussard, and sources told Broussard and Brian Windhorst that Bosh will accept it if LeBron James leaves the Miami Heat.

    However, Houston needs to shed some salary first to free up enough money to land Bosh. The Rockets already agreed to a deal that will send Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans and now must work to unload Lin's salary (an $8.3 million cap hit, although he'll actually collect nearly $15 million).

    That process has already started. 

    "The Rockets have been in talks with several teams about a similar cap-clearing move of Jeremy Lin," Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported, although a source said "there is not agreement on a deal with any one team."

    So where should the Rockets look to deal Lin? Perhaps more importantly, where should the point guard hope to be sent?

    From contenders to bottom feeders, there are a number of intriguing landing spots for the man once responsible for the global craze dubbed simply "Linsanity."

5. Golden State Warriors

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    Even after landing combo guard Shaun Livingston to bolster their bench, the Golden State Warriors could use more firepower from the second team.

    Livingston can run an offense but doesn't threaten a defense as much as Lin. The latterwho hails from Palo Alto and started his NBA career with the Warriorscan create for himself or his teammates, penetrate into the paint and has worked to improve his three-point stroke (shooting a career-high 35.8 percent in 2013-14).

    The Warriors have a need for a player like Lin and an asset that could entice the Rockets: a $9.8 million traded-player exception, per Basketball Insiders. The exception expires July 10, so the Warriors would need to work quickly.

    That's good news for Houston, which has a short window to pull off its superstar heist since Chandler Parsons has now signed a three-year, $45 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

    A league source told Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson the Warriors "have informed the [Rockets] they would consider acquiring Lin from the Rockets via trade."

    The problem is that Thompson's report surfaced before the Warriors gave Livingston the full mid-level exception, which pushed them closer to the luxury-tax line. The team might cross that threshold for the right player, "but for bench help? Don't bank on it," as Thompson put it.

    There seems to be enough interest to warrant the Warriors being on this list, but there's a reason they occupy the bottom rung on this ladder.

4. Dallas Mavericks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If the Mavericks cannot pry Parsons from Houston, would they take a flier on Lin instead?

    There's definitely a need for a playmaker in Dallas, and the franchise has long been interested in Lin. The Ivy Leaguer first made NBA noise while suiting up for the Mavericks in the Summer League, then popped back up on their radar as a free-agent target in 2012.

    Dallas dealt last season's starting point guard Jose Calderon to the New York Knicks along with 2013 first-rounder Shane Larkin. The Mavs picked up Raymond Felton in the trade, but he saw his player efficiency rating drop to a career-low 12.9 in 2013-14. Devin Harris recently agreed to return, but the 31-year-old has been a part-time player the last two seasons (22.8 minutes a night).

    If the Mavs miss out on Parsons, they'll still have the cap space to make a significant splash.

    That money might be better spent on finding a small forward, but that market is dwindling. Plus, the notable names still out on the market—Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng—are drawing heavy amounts of interest.

    Lin isn't the perfect point guard, but he's a better option than what the Mavericks have now. He's put up 13.3 points and 5.4 assists in 30 minutes a night over the past three seasons, which is more than Calderon did with his 30.5 minutes of work in 2013-14 (11.4 points, 4.7 assists).

3. Utah Jazz

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Utah Jazz are once again armed with gobs of cap space and, just like last summer, have shown a willingness to rent it out to get something in return.

    Last July, the Jazz took the burdensome deals of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush off the Warriors' hands and collected five draft picks for their troubles. Earlier this month, the Jazz agreed to collect a second-round pick for taking on the two years and $7.2 million left on Steve Novak's contract from the Toronto Raptors.

    According to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, "some around NBA wonder" if the Jazz would take a similar approach with Lin. Considering the Rockets need someone to absorb his deal, they'll likely need to include a sweetener (or two) to facilitate a trade.

    Asset collection is key for a rebuilding club like the Jazz, but Lin could be more than an avenue to a draft choice.

    Utah used the No. 5 pick on combo guard Dante Exum last month, and last summer it brought in point guard Trey Burke on a draft-night deal. Lin, who has four years of NBA service under his belt, could help prepare the young floor generals for the road ahead.

    Both former lottery picks, Exum and Burke are carrying pressure on their shoulders, and Lin can offer insight there as well. Although he punched his NBA ticket as an undrafted free agent, he had the eyes of the world tracking his every move for those magical months in 2012.

2. Milwaukee Bucks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Milwaukee Bucks finally seem ready to embrace their youth movement.

    Despite stumbling to a league-worst 15-67 record last season, the Bucks might not have been intentionally tanking. They brought in veteran contributors like O.J. Mayo, Carlos Delfino and Zaza Pachulia over the offseason and limited the exposure of potential building blocks Giannis Antetokounmpo (24.6 minutes a night) and John Henson (26.5).

    With scoring forward Jabari Parker added with the second overall pick of last month's draft, Milwaukee's intriguing collection of young talent might be too tempting to keep valuing the present more than the future.

    The Bucks, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein, "would consider trading for Lin if the Rockets add a sweetener or two to the deal for the privilege of shedding Lin's contract to a team that can comfortably absorb it."

    While their hiring of head coach Jason Kidd was clunky at best, it did grab the franchise a longer moment in the spotlight than it had enjoyed in quite some time. Bringing in a notable name like Lin, even as a one-year rental, could help hold the basketball world's attention a little longer.

    The Bucks have the athletes to play the uptempo system that suits Lin best, plus a point guard mentor in Kidd. Lin might not collect many victories next season with Milwaukee but could enter the 2015 free-agent market as a more complete player than he is now.

1. Philadelphia 76ers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The biggest supplier of smoke in the Lin trade talks is the City of Brotherly Love, and it's not even close.

    Sources told Stein the Philadelphia 76ers "have emerged as a leading contender" to acquire Lin, but that's not even the strongest report out on this topic. According to LibertyBallers.com's Jake Pavorsky, a source said the Sixers and Rockets "have agreed in principle" to a potential trade, if Houston is able to sign Bosh.

    Pavorsky added that the Sixers would be receiving "at least one first rounder" in addition to Lin.

    There are conflicting reports on whether the talks have progressed to that extent. One source told Comcast SportsNet's Dei Lynam the Sixers "remain an option [for Houston]," but the deal "may prove too expensive."

    If Philly can pick up anything for the future, it's almost certainly interested. Considering Lin won't turn 26 until August, he might fit in with the Sixers' youth movement.

    This team isn't trying to win anything at the moment. Rookie Joel Embiid, taken with the No. 3 overall pick, could miss the entire 2014-15 season with a broken foot. Stretch forward Dario Saric, a lottery pick the Sixers traded for on draft night, may not come stateside "for a minimum of two years," a source told ESPN.com's Chad Ford.

    The biggest question here might be whether Philadelphia would be a landing spot for Lin or simply a layover. Philadelphia Daily News' Bob Cooney wrote, "I doubt he would ever play for them," while suggesting a buyout could happen at some point.

    If that day comes, we might have to fire up a new list of destinations for Lin. For now, consider the Sixers as the favorites to acquire him.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.