The Houston Rockets seemingly brought almost everyone of real importance to the franchise to Bel Air on their grand impress Dwight Howard field trip.
General manager (Daryl Morey), coach (Kevin McHale), owner (Leslie Alexander), current players (James Harden and Chandler Parsons), the all-time greatest player (Hakeem Olajuwon), a franchise player with a gift for self promotion (Clyde Drexler), a CEO with a gift for making things first class (Tad Brown) all found themselves along for the ride. If the Toyota Center had an award-winning maintenance man, he probably would have been stuffed into that stretch Mercedes limo van too — and paraded in front of the Great Dwight.
But even with this potential overkill contingent, there is one glaring absence.
There is no sign of Jeremy Lin. And it's oversight that has the potential to shortchange years of planning.
For if the Rockets truly want to convince Howard that he'd be highlighted like never before in Houston, they'd be promoting what Lin did for the extremely limited Tyson Chandler during the height of Linsanity. They'd include a rundown of how willing a passer Lin proved to be in his first full season as a starter, of how many open looks he ended up getting Omer Asik.
If the Rockets truly want to convince Howard that he'd be highlighted like never before in Houston, they'd be promoting what Lin did for the extremely limited Tyson Chandler.
Instead of giving any thought to trading Lin, they'd be pointing out how well his game would work with a true dominant force in the middle. There are reports that Lin's skill was mentioned during the meeting, but why wasn't he at least put on Skype like Yao Ming, a great guy who figures to have as much impact on a Howard run in Houston as the late Wilt Chamberlain would have on a return to LA?
Yes, Harden and Parsons are friends of Howard, but this isn't high school. It's not a popularity contest. If Dwight Howard truly cares about winning championships — and the Rockets should be determined to find out if that's just lip service — he'd want all the most important relevant information. And whether certain fractions with the Rockets like it or not, Lin's more than shown that he can be a relevant factor with a big man.
This isn't about the fact that not making Lin a bigger part of the presentation screams of disrespect toward a free agent the Rockets courted just last summer. It does, but that's not what's truly egregious about the whole thing. What stinks about the Jeremy Lin omission is that he could have been a possible selling point.
When Howard pressed the Rockets about adding a third superstar and creating a Texas version of the Miami Heat, the Rockets should have pushed Lin's potential to grow. Of course to do that, you have to believe yourself, you have to think big rather than just discount Jeremy Lin by rote.
Maybe, Howard is one of those NBA players who doesn't think much of Lin's game. Maybe, he's downright dismissive of him as a point guard. Who cares? Show Howard that Lin will be good at getting him the ball and chances are, you'll suddenly have his interest.
There is no doubt Harden can create, but there's also no denying that he sometimes pounds the basketball into oblivion. Does anyone suddenly think Harden is going to instantly stop over dribbling because Dwight Howard is waiting for the ball inside?
Please. James Harden is the budding perimeter superstar, but Howard's already played a season with a perimeter mega star (Kobe Bryant, remember him?) — albeit, one in which Howard wasn't close to completely healthy himself. What Dwight Howard hasn't truly experienced before is life with an attacking point guard determined to get him the basketball (Jameer Nelson was never skilled enough in Orlando and Steve Nash was never healthy enough last season in LA).
Does anyone suddenly think Harden is going to instantly stop over dribbling because Dwight Howard is waiting for the ball inside?
Jeremy Lin isn't a perfect player, but he can get to the rim — and he knows how to get an open big man the basketball.
Lin is going to get better too. Considering he was coming off a knee injury and dealing with a coach who yo-yoed his minutes, the 24-year-old Lin's first full season as an NBA starter looks pretty impressive.
One would think you'd want to put that type of young point guard talent in front of Dwight Howard. But the California kid isn't part of the California caravan. Lin doesn't even warrant a Google+ Hangout with the big man.
It's a curious decision for a franchise that's supposedly pulling out all the stops. Maybe it won't matter. Maybe, Dwight Howard will still sign with the Rockets and turn down all that extra money in LA. Maybe, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won't make up for uncharacteristically completely blowing it with Deron Williams last summer. Maybe, the media-deemed "frontrunners" in the Howard sweepstakes are in complete command of the room — and NBA free agency overall.
It's still a little strange. Where's Jeremy Lin? And who put the young point guard in the corner at the Rockets' biggest moment?