Jeremy Lin is coming off his worst NBA season since he burst onto the scene with Linsanity in 2012, struggling to fit in with the Los Angeles Lakers. The point guard is set to hit free agency for the first time in three years, and he could be looking for a fresh start with a new team.
It doesn’t appear that Lin is headed back to L.A., with whom he only started 30 of the 74 games in which he played. He battled with journeyman Ronnie Price for playing time early in the year, then lost minutes to rookie Jordan Clarkson in the second half of the season.
After last year didn’t go as well as Lin had hoped, he took more than three weeks off before starting his offseason training.
“As for me mentally, I felt pretty burnt out coming out of this past season,” Lin wrote on his personal blog. “I felt like I gave great effort to play well, play the right way, and maintain the right perspective despite seeing very little fruit. So when the season first ended I felt very ... lazy. I know it's natural to feel worn out after a long year, but I was surprised by how drained I felt and how little excitement I felt to start my off-season training.”
But Lin says he eventually missed basketball, and is working towards next season. He’s even been working out with Steve Nash, who was also on the Lakers team in the 2014-2015 season. A back injury prevented Nash from playing at all this past season, and he retired after playing just 65 games in the last three years.
Lin averaged 11.2 points in 25.8 minutes per game for the Lakers, both season lows since he made a name with the New York Knicks. But he still could have some value for a team that needs a guard that can score off the bench.
When given the playing time, Lin found a way to be a productive player. He saw increased minutes in March, averaging 14.4 points and 5.4 assists per game. For as much as he struggled, the Lakers were still better with Lin on the court than they were when the point guard was on the bench.
The Lakers were one of the worst teams in the NBA, finishing with a 21-61 record, putting them ahead of only the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference. Putting him on the second unit of a contending team could certainly help the point guard get back to being an above-average player.
While Lin should be better in the 2015-2016 season, he’s proven that he’ll never return to the peak of his career. He earned his last contract by averaging 20.9 points and 8.4 assists per game with the Knicks in February 2012. Since then, he hasn’t averaged more than 15.3 points per game over the course of a full month.
Having signed a three-year contract worth $25 million with the Houston Rockets three summers ago, Lin will have to take a significant pay cut next year. In the final year of his deal, he made just a shade under $15 million.