Jason Terry Won't Replace Jeremy Lin for Houston Rockets

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, which helps to explain why the Houston Rockets have resorted to a 36-year-old sixth man who's seen better days.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the, "Rockets have reached an agreement in principle to acquire Sacramento Kings guard Jason Terry, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

"The Rockets will send a package centered on non-guaranteed contracts, including Alonzo Gee, that the Kings can ultimately waive and gain salary savings and roster space, league sources said," Wojnarowski adds. "Sacramento will send Houston two second-round picks in the deal, including one via the Knicks, league sources told Yahoo."

For the record, the trade may take some time to go through.

The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen explains that, "The deal will take several weeks to complete and will include additional non-guaranteed contracts, likely either Josh Powell, Scotty Hopson or both."

From Sacramento's perspective, this is merely an attempt to cut costs and potentially open up another roster spot.

In July, The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones noted, "The Kings still are looking to gain roster flexibility by trading one or more of their power forwards and possibly dealing guard Jason Terry, who has said he would prefer not to play in Sacramento."

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 27: Jason Terry #31 of the Brooklyn Nets prior to a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclays Center on December 27, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
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Indeed, Terry made it abundantly clear he wanted out of Sacramento ASAP.

"I wouldn’t say it’s rebuilding, but a building process," Terry told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Fitzsimmons and Friedo Show in July, per ESPNDallas.com's Bryan Gutierrez. "DeMarcus Cousins a huge talent. Attitude, a little shaky. Rudy Gay, not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around."

"They're in transition right now. For me, at this point in my career, I want championships," Terry added.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that Houston emerged as a natural trade partner. Even after losing restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to the Dallas Mavericks (and replacing him with Trevor Ariza), the Rockets are light-years closer to a title than the Kings.

But does the Jet's landing in H-Town bring them any closer to one?

The 15-year veteran played only 35 games last season for the Brooklyn Nets, and the results weren't especially reassuring. Terry averaged a career-low 4.5 points per contest and shot a career-worst 36.2 percent from the field.

If you're in the business of making excuses, one might argue that Terry's 16.3 minutes per contest weren't nearly enough for him to develop a rhythm.

On the other hand, the absence of rhythm may have been precisely what precipitated the diminished playing time—and ultimately resulted in his trade to Sacramento. 

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is clearly betting that a change of scenery could elicit one more season of strong bench play from a guy who calls nearby Dallas home. 

Even under the best of circumstances, though, Terry probably won't have any easy time replacing last season's sixth man.

Morey and Co. traded Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer in a bid to carve out enough cap space to land another superstar—namely Chris Bosh.

In retrospect, the move appropriately encapsulates an offseason that didn't go as planned. The loss of Parsons. Whiffing on premier free-agent targets like Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Dealing away Lin and Omer Asik unnecessarily.

These Rockets have seen better days.

Acquiring Terry on the cheap is a noble attempt to make up some lost ground. More importantly, it's a low-risk venture that won't cost the organization much in terms of assets. By almost any metric, this is a wise move.

It's just not nearly enough.

Though some bemoaned the fact that Lin never rose to superstar heights in his two seasons with the Rockets, he proved a valuable weapon whether starting or coming off the bench.

In his most recent campaign in Houston, the 26-year-old averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists in just 28.9 minutes per contest. The year before that—when he started all 82 games—Lin tallied 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game. In both seasons, his shooting hovered around his career mark of 44 percent from the field.

Terry really hasn't produced at that level since his 2011-12 season with the Dallas Mavericks, the last of eight go-arounds with the club.

It's telling that the Mavs parted ways with such an integral part of their rotation, a key component of the franchise's title run in 2011. If Dallas lost confidence in Terry then, why should we believe he still has anything left in the tank two years later?

Terry's lone season with the Boston Celtics may offer some silver lining. In 2012-13, he averaged 10.1 points per game and made 43.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Even better, Terry has made at over 37 percent of his three-point attempts in each of the last three seasons—including that clunker in Brooklyn. By comparison, Lin's best performance from beyond the three-point arc (35.8 percent) came last season with Houston.

But don't get too carried away.

Lin is entering the prime of his career, plays solid defense and—most importantly—can run an offense without exclusively looking for his own shot. While Terry's veteran presence should yield value on an otherwise youthful roster, Lin gave head coach Kevin McHale a legitimate floor general who could anchor the second unit and finish out close games.

At this point, Terry is little more than a three-point specialist. He won't create much for others, and he won't get stops.

He fills a narrow role, but he does little to stabilize a backcourt rotation that's sorely lacking depth.

As USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt notes, "Terry likely will compete with second-year point guard Isaiah Canaan, shooting guard Troy Daniels and rookie combo guard Nick Johnson for minutes behind starting guards Patrick Beverley and James Harden."

Put another way, Terry instantly becomes the most reliable option among arguably the most unproven platoon of reserve guards in the league.

Perhaps he can even rebound from last season's precipitous decline.

NBCSports.com's Brett Pollakoff speculates that, "He may not have been right physically, and taking the second half of last season off could help him regain his form, to where he can once again become a viable contributor off the bench."

Either way, Terry upgrades a position of need.

Just don't expect him to replace Jeremy Lin.


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