Anyone who assumed Jeremy Lin would be sentenced to a purgatory of irrelevancy is in for a rude awakening. The Houston Rockets' disastrous — and ultimately futile — Chris Bosh chase that prompted them to deal their most talented point guard to the LA Lakers guarantees Lin will continue to be a major player in the NBA.
Jeremy Lin clearly wins with this move, going to one of the NBA's all-time premier franchises — one that's still committed to winning now with Kobe Bryant, one that desperately needs a point guard with Steve Nash's career in serious doubt. Meanwhile, the Rockets suffer a disaster that makes their first round playoff flop against Portland suddenly seem like anything but the low point.
How low can Daryl Morey and the Rockets go now? How about losing their best point guard (a player in Lin who hasn't come close to showing his best yet), the best backup center in the league in Omer Asik and possibly the now somewhat overrated but still valuable Chandler Parsons in the matter of days? With nothing to show for it.
That's reality staring the Rockets in the face.
Now Houston's reeling. And Jeremy Lin is reborn.
The out-of-touch, brief joy in Houston over Lin leaving reflects more Lin Only Haters glee than NBA truth.
The Rockets are left with a mismatched roster, lacking both a quality point guard (no Patrick Beverley, the NBA's modern day Bill Laimbeer level pest, does not qualify), a legit power forward and enough rebounding. Lin escapes Rockets coach Kevin McHale though — and a Houston franchise that clearly never would have given him a real chance at reaching his potential.
If you're stunned by how quickly things turned on the Rockets, you simply haven't been paying close enough attention. Bosh completely played Morey and the Rockets to get a better deal out of the team he wanted to be with all along, just like he did in 2010. NBA players are clearly put off by the way Morey treats any player not named James Harden or Dwight Howard as nothing more than a disposable number. The classless use of Lin's still-in-use No. 7 Rockets jersey in the always doomed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony didn't go unnoticed around The Association.
It's easy to imagine Morey stepping up to a microphone in a few days and telling his horde of Houston media sycophants that the Rockets are clearing space for next summer's free agent class. The splash is still coming. Just wait. That's Morey always spinning, forever buying himself more time.
Jeremy Lin no longer has to concern himself with the Rockets warped world (maybe Chris Bosh realized that the Rockets GM despises mid-range jumpers, the staple of his own game). Lin joins a Kobe who knows he needs help, a Kobe who gained respect for Lin's game after that 38-point Madison Square Garden night. He joins a Lakers franchise whose championship tradition isn't 20 years past like the Rockets' supposed one.
The only thing that could be better for Jeremy Lin is if Mike D'Antoni, his old Knicks coach, had stayed with the Lakers.
Jeremy Lin Free At Last
This is a great opportunity for Lin to grab the kind of consistent minutes and starting role he always deserved, the chances that McHale relentlessly refused to give him.
The Lakers absolutely played the Rockets in this trade just like Bosh played them in free agency. The Rockets told everyone they'd only trade Lin if they could land Bosh or Melo, but Morey assumed too much on Bosh (perhaps he bought into his own shrewd dealer press clippings) and jumped too soon on Lin. Sensing Morey's desperation to make another big splash, the Lakers fleece Houston out of Lin, getting a borderline All-Star level talent, a big expiring contract and a first round draft pick in one fell swoop.
Who are Morey and McHale going to blame now when they once again flame out in the first few days of May?
The Rockets did not fail to get more for Jeremy Lin because that's what his value dictates. They failed to get more for Lin because the front office panicked in its zeal to land Bosh.
Now Houston's reeling. And Jeremy Lin is reborn.
Still only approaching his 26th birthday, Lin's now been a member of two of the most storied franchises in NBA history in the Lakers and Knicks and one of the most internationally known in the Rockets. That's quite a run for a Harvard guy who went undrafted because of prejudices against Asian players.
Considering Lin could have ended up in complete rebuild situations in Philadelphia or, much worse, Milwaukee, going to a franchise like the Lakers represents a huge win.
Freed from McHale's disrespect and discounting and a general manager who clearly begrudged the fact Rockets owner Leslie Alexander pushed him to sign Lin after that disastrous Christmas Eve cutting, Lin gets the chance for a real fresh start.
It's easy to imagine Lin becoming a fan favorite in LA, pushing the ball and getting Kobe and Swaggy P plenty of good shots, and ending up lasting more than one year with the Lakers. Lin's much more than just an expiring contract. He's a difference maker.
For all the usually ridiculous criticism Lin took in Houston, the Rockets easily could have been swept without him against Portland. Troy Daniels hits a great shot to win Game 3, but Lin's heady Larry Bird play that makes the shot possible is much more difficult than the open three itself. Then in Game 5, with Harden again once again completely lost, Lin drops in 21 points and drives the Rockets to playing team ball in their only other series win.
Who are Morey, McHale and Harden going to blame now when they once again flame out in the first few days of May?
Jeremy Lin is finally free and gone — and the Rockets problems are bigger than ever.