Jeremy Lin has now been traded to Hollywood, to play alongside Kobe Bryant, one of the guys he exploded against during the famous Linsanity madness. Reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal has been finalized right when a certain team needed it to be.
The Houston Rockets had intentions heading into today.
They would wait on the man of the year, LeBron James, and decide exactly what they were going to do when he announced where he would play next season.
Matching the offer sheet for Chandler Parsons in the deal he signed with Dallas this week, would have only been the top priority if LeBron remained in Miami. Why? Because their primary target, Chris Bosh, would’ve stayed with James in South Beach. The idea of playing with the most physical and dominant athlete in America still outweighs anything, it seems.
When LeBron decided to return to his roots and bury the hatchet with Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert, mastermind Daryl Morey and the Rockets experienced the first ear-to-ear grin they’ve been able to have this offseason.
Bosh now has room to join Houston for a max-contract, which is supposed to be four years, $88 million. How the Rockets were able to do that for their coveted free agent was priceless, as they dumped off Lin’s contract to the Lakers. Parsons is also expected to return to Houston, after they match Dallas’ offer.
By doing so, Houston also had to send Los Angeles a 2015 first-round pick and other unnamed draft considerations.
Up to this day, it’s been clear Houston and Lin weren’t on the same page in terms of their future together, for a couple of reasons. First, they overpaid a player who had two sensational weeks of play. Back when Lin became a free agent after his breakthrough year with the New York Knicks, the market swirled for the 6’3″ point guard.
Eventually, Houston inked Lin to a ludicrous deal, worth three years, $25 million. The issue with that contract was that it loaded most of Lin’s salary on the back end of the deal. In return, Lin will be owed roughly $14 million next season. Needless to say, there’s not but a handful of floor generals in this league worth that much cash, and Lin is not one of them. We live to tell the truth here at HoopsHabit, and in the sports world.
Another reason why Lin could’ve wanted out may have something to do with them disrespecting him during Carmelo Anthony‘s free agency tour two weeks ago.
What will Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers give up in this deal?
Strictly cash, and the rights to a player from overseas.
It sounds as if it’s a horrible deal, until you realize Lin’s contract ensures the Lakers of an $8.3 million salary cap hit. This makes the situation a bit less severe, and there’s more on the positive for the Lakers.
His contract ends after next season, meaning he would be completely off the books. This deal leads to the Lakers being able to save cap space for next offseason, the year they’ll be trying to make a run for free agents … like a desperate child screaming for a toy.
It may even get worse than that.
The 2015-16 season is intended to be the final year for Kobe Bryant, as his rather lucrative deal expires at the conclusion of that year. Whether or not it’s true Kobe wants to hang it up after two more grinding seasons, is something only the Black Mamba knows. Two more years of healthy play and lethal scoring will change his mind and you can bet your bottom dollar he’d love to play until he’s 40. But all circumstances have to be perfect.
Saving cap space for next offseason is the most important part of this deal, since we know Bryant doesn’t want to fade into the shadows. He wants to compete for a sixth ring, and the only way to do that — in the Western Conference — is to surround yourself with talent. I would say “stars,” but R.C. Buford of the Spurs would be knocking at my front door, ready to attack.
Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love headline next summer’s class. That’s right, no more LeBron and Carmelo Anthony relentless coverage in July. Once they sign their new deals, we’ll remember the 2014 offseason as one of the greatest. Bryant would love for Lakers management to put all their cards in on bringing him a capable point guard (Rondo) or the best power forward in the game (Love).
Los Angeles’ original first round pick for next season was dealt to Phoenix for Steve Nash two years ago. However, it is a top five protected pick, so it’s truly up to the organization — and Bryant — whether or not they want to tank away this coming season. Reloading for 2015-16 may not seem like an atrocious idea, but Bryant won’t want any part of it.
This is why the Lakers will be faced with the worst challenge of all: Trying to compete in the midst of a mild rebuild.
What they have to face reality with, however, is that this isn’t a mild rebuild. You’re keeping the best player of your franchise’s history, but that’s is. No players around him, and nowhere to turn. A one wheel car never went farther than out of the driveway.
As for bringing in Lin this offseason, we can’t get over the fact the Lakers were pressured into it. Maybe Houston literally held Kupchak at gunpoint until he got this completed, since it was more than imminent timing.
Lin won’t turn into an All-Star in his career, but he’s in the middle of the pack when it comes to starting point guards in the professionals.
Defensively, “suspect” is awfully generous for describing Lin. He lost his starting spot to a defensive guru in Patrick Beverly, although Lin’s capabilities on offense outweighed what Beverly could bring.
One thing is for certain in Los Angeles. Lin will be the starter next season if Steve Nash is dumped off in more attempts to save salary. The Lakers are actively seeking Isaiah Thomas, but it’s unclear if they’re more intrigued with fixing the backcourt issues than the problems with the frontcourt.
Re-signing Pau Gasol is the first priority, since they have little talent and zero starting experience as of now. Julius Randle has yet to play a game in the league, but has overwhelming size and raw talent. Robert Sacre has experience with the team, and Bryant as a teammate, but has only started 16 games in his career.
The plan for the Lakers gets dicier by the living second. They still have free agents to contact, and a head coach to hire.
You can’t sit back and remember a time where Bryant has been at the heart of a blank blueprint. They struck out on Carmelo, and now have Jeremy Lin on board for whatever role they see fit.
The idea of “playoffs” is looking like the pipe dream of a century, and that won’t change until the Lakers decide. Sign these free agents now, or take the Philadelphia approach for another season.