Houston Rockets: Trading Jeremy Lin Would Be a Mistake

Nov 13, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks to pass during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Rockets 123-117. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Lin has been mentioned in trade rumors on several occasions this season, including a recent report that also involved teammate Omer Asik and a possible deal with the Brooklyn Nets that would have brought Deron Williams to the Houston Rockets.

Trade speculation is just a part of the day-to-day business of the game and something that fans and media understandably seek out with a great deal of interest and excitement. In most cases, the reports are denied by team executives and player agents, but we are left wondering if changes might be on the way. At the very least, these rumors provide a backdrop to debate the merits of the players who may be on the move.

In July 2012, Lin became a member of the Rockets after signing an offer sheet that went unmatched by the New York Knicks. The three-year, $25.1 million dollar contract seemed reasonable by NBA standards, yet somewhat lucrative for a player cashing in on a short period of success – known as Linsanity – during the lockout shortened season of 2011-12.

What may be of concern to the Rockets now is that Lin is owed a balloon payment of $14.9 million in 2014-15, the last year of the deal. So, at that price, they might be starting to question his value.

The Rockets became enamored with Lin after he was inserted into the Knicks’ starting lineup in January 2012 and averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists over a 25-game stretch in which he led the team to victories amid worldwide attention.

Lin quickly established himself as a pass-first point guard with a crafty ability to deliver the ball to teammates, especially in transition. His drive-and-kick mentality, was, and still is, a perfect fit for teams with capable 3-point shooters. Furthermore, Lin has always been able to create opportunities for himself off the dribble—often resulting in layup attempts and trips to the free throw line.

Lin’s 2013-14 numbers aren’t that far off from his performance of two seasons ago, and he is actually improving in the area of field goal percentage.

2011-12 NYK 35 25 26.9 .446 .320 .477 5.2 .798 3.1 6.2 14.6
2013-14 HOU 28 18 31.0 .468 .347 .534 5.0 .786 2.6 4.2 14.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/13/2014.

The 25-year-old is perhaps not the quickest of foot, and does show some deficiencies and the defensive end, but he certainly isn’t the first point guard to require some help from his teammates on the other side of the ball. And besides, the Rockets as a team are more offensive-minded anyway – ranking third in the league in points per game at 105.3, while surrendering 102, which puts them at 23rd overall.

There will also be some debate that Lin should revert to a bench role when Patrick Beverley returns from injury, but to me that’s a minor detail. Having another healthy player will add depth to a team that relies heavily on its starters at 32.6 minutes per game. By comparison, their division rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, play their starters three minutes less per contest.

Most importantly, though, Lin knows his role in facilitating an offense that boasts James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Chandler Parsons.

Reaching out to acquire a point guard such as Williams might look good on paper as “big three” combinations often do.

However, I’m not convinced that Williams would be a good fit for the Rockets and I’ll go as far as saying that he wouldn’t be an upgrade over Lin, based on the team’s identity and style of play.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones that fall through.

Topics: Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin

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  • Krespino

    Deron Williams is injury prone. Lin is fine but if the upcoming Rockets would like to rely on another PG for their future it should not be Deron Williams whose basketball will only be going downhill every coming season. You don’t need to play Deron W and James Harden together.

    • Paul McGaughey

      I totally agree on Williams being injury prone and D-Will and Harden definitely wouldn’t be a good pairing in the backcourt.

  • Paul McGaughey

    I totally agree on Williams being injury prone and D-Will and Harden definitely wouldn’t be a good pairing in the backcourt.

  • swagcity hooptown

    If Rockets play team ball then Lin would be a perfect fit, but if they go back to iso Harden and iso Howard it make no sense to pay Lin 14 million just to stand on the corner and wait for things to happen. Set him free to play his style or set him free to another team.

    • Paul McGaughey

      That’s a really good point.

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