Veteran NBA point guard Jeremy Lin recently made waves due to comments he made regarding how his free agency this summer has gone. The 6-foot-3 point guard said he feels as if the Association has given up on him.
Of course, this isn’t a case of the NBA trying to actively shun a player; it’s just that Lin has had a rough go of it since his patella tendon injury back on opening night of the 2017-18 season.
Last season, his first full one since getting healthy again, Lin averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds nightly while splitting time with the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors. These are modest numbers, but they’re decent for a player in a backup role like Lin.
Looking around the NBA and considering his production, there are definitely teams out there who could use Lin’s services.
Below, HoopsHype breaks down five potential landing spots for the floor general along with the latest rumors regarding the possibility of him heading overseas.
Although the wisest course of action would be for the Charlotte Hornets to undergo a full rebuild after the departure of Kemba Walker this summer, the fact that they signed Terry Rozier to a three-year, $56.7 million deal signals that they may try and remain competitive in the immediate post-Kemba era.
Well, if Charlotte does want to remain relevant in the fringe playoff picture, they could use a stronger backup ball-handler, someone who’s more proven and preferably who are they familiar with.
Lin would fit that very specific bill perfectly, considering that his last truly good year in the NBA came in 2015-16 as a member of the Hornets.
That season, he averaged 11.7 points and 3.0 assists per game, playing the role of backup point guard for the most recent Charlotte team to make the playoffs. Lin was so competent at his job that he even received Sixth Man of the Year votes for his contributions that campaign, finishing seventh for the award in 2015-16.
At the moment, Rozier and 24-year-old second-season player Devonte Graham are the only point guards on the Hornets’ roster.
Lin could provide a boost for Charlotte’s lightest position, and help them if Graham isn’t ready to contribute on a consistent basis.
As a team that’s a bit more firmly in the playoff picture, the Miami Heat could use immediate contributors and that’s why they make some sense as a suitor for Lin.
As of now, the Heat project Goran Dragic, entering the final year of his deal, to be their starting point guard in 2019-20. That’s not speculation, either; it was outright stated by team president Pat Riley back in June:
That came as somewhat of a surprise, since Justise Winslow took over the role for Miami last season in lieu of an injured Dragic and had the best stretch of his young career.
Nevertheless, maybe the Heat view Winslow best as a versatile weapon who can play multiple positions, legitimately 1 through 5, making him best-suited to come off the bench as a sort of sixth starter.
If that is the case, it would leave Miami with just one pure point guard on the roster in Dragic, and without a proven option to back him up if Winslow is asked to cover other positions.
Lin could be a good option for the Heat as a second- or third-string point guard, in case Kendrick Nunn, Miami’s current third point guard, isn’t ready for a big role in 2019-20.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The Los Angeles Clippers have two of the best wings in basketball already on the roster, along with combo guard Lou Williams, to take on primary ball-handling duties next season.
However, their lone true point guard at the moment is Patrick Beverley, with only the recently signed Derrick Walton (who spent last season in Europe) to back him up.
If Los Angeles decides they want a more established backup ball-handler, they could look to someone like Lin to take over that role.
He might not get as much playing time as he would in a different situation, but Lin’s best bet to stick at this point in his career is to find his way onto a contender and accept a minimal role while staying ready in case there’s an injury, or something of the sort that will give him exposure on an elite team.
Picking up Lin wouldn’t be a game-changer for a team as loaded as the Clippers, but it could prove beneficial to both parties.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Prior to the explosion of Linsanity, Lin spent 29 games during the 2010-11 season as a member of the Golden State Warriors, where he averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 assists per contest in under 10 minutes nightly.
A reunion nearly 10 years later would not only make for a good story, it could benefit Golden State, as they’re already down one guard for a good chunk of the season due to injury (Klay Thompson) and are lacking in the backup point guard department outside of the still-unproven Jacob Evans.
With Shaun Livingston’s departure and D’Angelo Russell projected to spend a lot of his time playing alongside Stephen Curry rather than backing him up, the Warriors could use a backup point guard capable of running a steady second-unit offense.
Lin could be that guy.
He won’t recreate Linsanity, but playing for a stable team like Golden State could help the Harvard product regain some the confidence that has been missing since his major injury.
Most recently, it seemed like Lin could be headed overseas, either to a Euroleague-level club or to China.
Specifically, there were rumors that CSKA Moscow, the reigning Euroleague champs and a team that lost their best guards this offseason, were interested in Lin.
Those talks reportedly fell apart, which led to CSKA Moscow signing Ron Baker instead.
Further reports came out stating that China shouldn’t be ruled out for Lin…
…but for now, it appears as if the nine-year veteran is waiting for an NBA opportunity to pop up.
And although that seems unlikely to happen, at least not until we’re into training camp and maybe even the regular season, a point guard-needy team going after Lin, who is only three years removed from being an every-day player, cannot be ruled out.
There’s a good chance Lin’s NBA days aren’t over just yet.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.