Jeremy Lin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but will he don a Los Angeles Lakers uniform next year? That’s the question posed to ESPN and Lakers reporters Baxter Holmes, Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, and the first two seem to think Lin’s time in the City of Angels is done after one year.
For one, Lin hasn’t established himself in the Lakers offense and lost his starting spot to Ronnie Price early in the season. Relegated to the bench by head coach Byron Scott because of his glaring issues on the defensive end, Lin at first didn’t respond well to his demoted role.
In December, his court time dropped by nearly 10 minutes on average from 31.3 to 21.8, and Lin’s shooting suffered to the off-key tune of 35.7 percent from the field for 7.7 points per game.
But in 11 games this month, Lin has rediscovered his shooting stroke, especially from deep. He’s nailing 47.8 percent of his three-point attempts, and has shot better than 50 percent overall in five games.
So even if Lin’s time with the Lakers is up, he’s still displaying the solid scoring skills that landed him a three-year, $25.1 million contract with the Houston Rockets back in 2012 and initially made him a coveted guard for L.A.’s backcourt rotation.
Clearly Lin knows how to fight out of a slump or diminished role in the offense, but Shelburne pointed to a fact that won’t go away for at least another season in Los Angeles. Lin’s especially struggled to mesh with All-Star Kobe Bryant, and many reports of Bryant overtly calling out Lin during practices emerged earlier in the season.
There is a chance that Lin can excel on the court in the second half of the season now that the rest of Bryant’s year is likely over. The 17-time All-Star tore a rotator cuff in his right, or shooting, shoulder and all signs point to him missing his third straight year with a major injury.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Bryant and the Lakers are waiting until Monday to decide his status for the rest of the season. Assuming Bryant ends his season prematurely, Lin does stand to see an uptick in minutes as the fifth-leading scorer and first guard off the Lakers bench.
The extra reps will also help Lin rediscover a part of his game that made him a star with the New York Knicks. Almost three years ago, Lin was attacking the rim and drawing 5.2 free throw attempts per game, and knocking those down nearly 79 percent of the time.
This season, Lin’s barely averaging three free throws a game, and in the last two months he’s averaging just below 70 percent from the charity stripe, well below his career average of 79.6.
Even if Lin’s time with the Lakers is short lived, he can spend the rest of the season auditioning for a number of teams in need of a point guard next season.