The NBA trade deadline came and went last week, and Jeremy Lin is still a Houston Rocket despite some speculation that he might return to the New York Knicks, or perhaps the Boston Celtics.
About a month before the deadline, the Rockets and Brooklyn Nets apparently discussed a trade that would have sent Lin to the Barclays Center and Deron Williams to Houston.
The possible Knicks deal involved a package that would have likely included Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. and perhaps draft picks. Another move involved the Celtics, where point guard Rajon Rondo has been a hot commodity, but nothing materialized.
It’s unclear if the trade chatter affected Lin’s game, but over the last five games he’s particularly struggled with his shot. Thankfully for Lin and Houston, the 25-year-old has worked his way out of shooting slumps before.
Going 12-for-40 from the field for exactly 30 percent shooting has limited Lin to an average of 7.4 points in the last five games, but the Rockets third-ranked offense has managed to hide Lin’s limited production.
The Rockets have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games, and have one of the best records in the NBA since the turn of the year, mostly due to the continued production from the NBA’s fifth leading scorer in James Harden, and center Dwight Howard overpowering opponents in February with averages of 22.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for by far his best month as a Rocket.
Lin had similar troubles with his shot during his first month as a Rocket last season, notching a poor 37.3 percent from the field and nearly three turnovers per game. He slowly worked out the kinks, and in the final month of the season he was on fire with 17.3 points and 6.9 assists per game averages, helping Houston notch their first two playoff wins in four years.
Other than Lin, perhaps no one understands his resiliency more than Houston head coach Kevin McHale, and the former Celtic and Hall of Famer is unlikely to make a rash decision by denying Lin minutes.
After experimenting with his lineup for the first two months of the season, McHale struck the right balance between Lin and second-year point guard Patrick Beverley, but of late, he’s given the latter more court time since his return from a wrist injury.
However, both Beverley and Lin have had their struggles in recent games, with Beverley committing eight turnovers in the last three games and fouling out in Houston’s huge loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Lin played just 19 minutes against the Clippers, his fourth lowest total of the season.
L.A. and Houston are in a dead heat for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, with less than a month and half left in the regular season.
That kind of pressure was what drove Lin to emerge as one of the best young guards in the league during his torrid outburst with the Knicks two years ago. Houston could especially use a boost of “Linsanity” in its remaining 28 games, 11 of which are against playoff contenders including two against the defending champion Miami Heat.