When Jeremy Lin decided to agree to the Houston Rockets’ three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet, there were questions as to why Lin would consider rejoining a team that overlooked him.
Lin was placed on waivers twice last season. The Golden State Warriors waived Lin to clear cap room to make a run at restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan and the Rockets waived Lin because they had three other point guards with guaranteed contracts in Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Jonny Flynn and they needed to clear cap room for free agent Samuel Dalembert.
Who would’ve thought that a year later, none of those point guards would still be on the Rockets’ roster?
At the Trade Deadline last season, Flynn was traded to the Portland Trailblazers along with Hasheem Thabeet and a second round pick for Marcus Camby and this offseason the Rockets traded Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for a protected first round pick and Gary Forbes while also allowing Dragic to sign a contract with the Phoenix Suns.
Now the Rockets’ starting point guard is Toney Douglas following a trade that landed him, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and two second round picks from the New York Knicks for Marcus Camby.
The Knicks meanwhile decided to claim Lin off of waivers last season when Iman Shumpert suffered an injury. Lin became the fourth-string backup behind Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and recently signed Baron Davis.
Lin ended up being demoted to the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Developmental League on January 17. Lin surprised the Knicks with a triple double of 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists in the BayHawks’ 122–113 victory over the Maine Red Claws and as a result was called up three days later.
It was by a chance of luck that Lin even remained with the Knicks since Davis suffered a setback on January 28 that prolonged his Knicks-debut. The Knicks actually had thoughts of releasing Lin before his contract became guaranteed on February 10 so they could sign a better player since they were an 8-15 team that lost 11 of its last 13 games and Lin had only played 55 minutes.
However, the Knicks blew a fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Boston Celtics on February 3 and acting out of desperation, D’Antoni decided to give Lin playing time against the New Jersey Nets on February 4. Lin responded with 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes, earning the chance to start the next game against the Utah Jazz on February 6.
Lin would go on to lead the Knicks to eight straight wins who were without star players Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire for the next three and seven games, respectively. In fact D’Antoni stated after the Jazz game that he intended to “ride Lin like freakin’ Secretariat”.
Heading into the All-Star break, Lin had 12 starts and led the Knicks to 9-3 record over that span averaging 22.5 points and 8.7 assists. As a result of overlooking Lin, a player who excelled with pick-and-rolls, the Knicks decided to part ways with D’Antoni in favor of Mike Woodson, a curious move considering he is a coach who favors more isolation plays.
Following the game against the Detroit Pistons on March 24, Lin’s season ended due to a small meniscus tear in his left knee. Lin chose to have surgery and missed the remainder or the season.
In Lin’s first 10 games, he averaged 24.6 points, 9.2 assists and shot 49.7 percent from the field but had 5.6 turnovers. In Lin’s next seven games, he averaged 16 points and 7.7 assists with 3.9 turnovers. In Lin’s last nine games, he averaged 13.6 points and 5.9 assists and shot just 39.1 percent while dealing with his then-undisclosed knee injury.
With three days to match the contract offer, the Knicks must decide if they want to take a gamble on Lin, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists in just 26 games as an everyday player last season. The Knicks already signed Jason Kidd to a three-year deal and Woodson has made it clear that he wants Lin to be his starting point guard.
“Jason’s a veteran guy that brings leadership,” Woodson said. “He’ll be able to tutor [Lin] as he grows as a point guard for our franchise. And Jason can still play and run a ball club, so that’s important I think as we move forward and get ready for [training] camp and start the upcoming season.”
If for some reason the Knicks’ management decides Lin’s price of $14.8 million in year three is too high, the top free agent point guards available are Raymond Felton, Aaron Brooks, Randy Foye or Derek Fisher.