Austin | Dallas | Houston
Jeremy Lin Benching A Joke

Global joke: Jeremy Lin benching proves Kevin McHale doesn't respect Rockets difference maker

Enlarge
Slideshow
Jeremy Lin Manila
Jeremy Lin still soared in Manila as a glorified sixth man. Photo by Mike Young/Getty Images
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
But the benching showed that Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale still doesn't realize what he has in Jeremy Lin. Houston Rockets/Facebook
Kevin Durant James Harden
James Harden can stand eye-to-eye with the NBA's biggest stars. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Dwight Howard Rockets
And Dwight Howard continues to draw crowds. But neither one is winning a title in Houston without Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Jeremy Lin Manila
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
Kevin Durant James Harden
Dwight Howard Rockets
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Kevin McHale seemingly cannot help himself. The Houston Rockets coach will show how little he thinks of Jeremy Lin every opportunity he gets.

The latest is McHale's benching of Lin in Manila for the first leg of the Rockets Asia trip and his commitment to a new ridiculous routine of rotating Lin and the unexceptional Patrick Beverley as point guard starters throughout the rest of the preseason. It's like McHale is forever fixated on trying to put Jeremy Lin in his place rather than embracing a playmaker with the ability to help Dwight Howard and James Harden win a championship.

Sure, I'll start you in Taipei where you're a rock star, but only after making my point in Manila.

The New York Knicks would never treat Raymond Felton — a far inferior point guard to Lin — this way. Heck, the Charlotte Bobcats would hesitate to mess with a shaky Kemba Walker like this.

But anything goes with Jeremy Lin — no slight is out of the question. So he's suddenly pulled as a starter for the second preseason game of his second season with the Rockets and told to embrace coming off the bench as an interesting lineup change.

 Here's a news flash for McHale: The Rockets didn't sign Chris Paul in the offseason. There's no reason to try and marginalize Lin like Omer Asik. 

No matter what you think of Lin's game, it's hard to argue that he hasn't proven worthy of being an NBA starter. This isn't Tim Tebow. Lin's first full NBA season averages of 13.4 points, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game — despite fluctuating minutes — are more than representative of a good NBA starter.

Here's a news flash for McHale: The Rockets didn't sign Chris Paul in the offseason. There's no reason to try and marginalize Lin like Omer Asik.

It's not just disrespectful to a young player the Rockets are supposedly committed to, it's also stupid for the team.

McHale may justifiably love the idea of a great, game-altering sixth man. After all, the Rockets coach was one of the best sixth men in NBA history early in his own playing career. But McHale might want to remind himself that he's not coaching the 1980 Celtics.

These 2013-14 Rockets need Lin on the floor for the start of games — and as much as possible. The offense simply runs better when the ball passes through his hands. The transcendent talents of Harden and Howard shine through more when the basketball is moving.

And please, let's not cite the Rockets jumping to a 12-0 lead over a sleeping Indiana Pacers team with Beverley as the starter in Manila as any sort of evidence that the offense is sure to be potent without Lin. The Pacers are already an elite NBA team — one with little to prove in an ultra early October preseason game. Roy Hibbert and the Pacers barely seemed aware a game was going on.

Lin plays well coming off the bench against Indiana, getting into the lane again and again. But he also played well as the starter in the preseason opener.

He's clearly worked on his game — and it shows. He'll be a better shooter this season, a better passer and an even more confident player.

Doubting Lin

Yo-yoing around his starting role only threatens to erode some of Lin's confidence. It's hard to see what the real-end game goal is here for McHale and the Rockets. Do they really think Patrick Beverley is a transformative player?

You know it's a messed up week in Houston sports when Texans coach Gary Kubiak refuses to bench a faltering, panicky Matt Schaub and McHale refuses to start an improving, renewed Jeremy Lin.

 The Rockets need Lin on the floor for the start of games — and as much as possible. The offense simply runs better when the ball passes through his hands. 

For all their public protestations and supportive interviews, it's becoming harder and harder to buy the notion that McHale and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey really want Jeremy Lin in Houston. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander is the one who hung up on Morey after watching Lin hit that game winner in Toronto during the heights of Linsanity. The owner's anger is what drove this redo and free agent signing.

McHale and Morey? They're still acting like the duo that cut Lin on Christmas Eve in the first place.

Actions speak louder than words. Jeremy Lin suddenly has to fight for his starting spot. Yeah . . . that's real belief.

It's hard to imagine Lin still in Houston after his NBA reasonable, three-year, $25 million contract expires after next season. The Rockets might be surprised when they later realize that their best chance at a championship during this Harden-Howard era walked right out the door with Lin. Unless Morey pulls off another miracle and lures Kyrie Irving to town, that's exactly what figures to happen.

These Rockets need a good, playmaking point guard to win really big. They happen to have one on their roster. If only they didn't refuse to see it. 

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Houston news, views + events

The Dining Report

News you can eat

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address

HTX Ready to Jingle 2014