Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott made a bold move on Dec. 7 when he benched starters Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin in favor of more defensive-minded Ed Davis and Ronnie Price. One month later, Scott may insert Lin back into the starting rotation with Price dealing with flu-like symptoms and a broken nose, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"He came in this morning and he looked pretty bad," Scott said of Price ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Price, who suffered a broken nose against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, was previously listed as probable for the matchup against the Clippers. Price is now listed as “doubtful.” He has averaged 5.5 points per game, and 3.6 assists this season. Should Price miss action, he could very well return for Friday's home game against the Orlando Magic.
The possible return of Lin into the starting point guard role comes in the midst of sharp improvement from the point guard. Lin has been on a hot streak over the past five games, averaging 13.4 points per game, and shooting over 53 percent in that span. Prior to the hot streak, Lin averaged 6.8 points per game and shot 33.3 percent from the field in the 10 games on the bench.
On the season, Lin has averaged 10.7 points per game, and shot 43.6 percent from the field, which are numbers just below his career average. He has averaged 26.3 minutes a game, down from 28.9 minutes in 2013-2014 when he was a member of the Houston Rockets. In 2012-2013, Lin averaged 32.2 minutes per game.
With a new opportunity to play as a starter, Lin could perhaps make a strong case to regain the job on a permanent basis. However, Scott may be hoping to have Lin become more of a distributor and defensive presence. Through 35 games, Lin is averaging 4.6 assists, and has had only two games of 10 assists or more. In December, Lin had a stretch of six games with a total of one assist.
Lin expressed disappointment with his initial benching, but has kept a positive attitude.
“I believe I can be a starting point guard in the league, and I want to be. That’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m not going to lie. It was disappointing when I heard about it,” Lin said on Dec. 7.
“This is one of the toughest situations I’ve been in ever since I played the game of basketball. It’s tough. But I believe God has me for a reason and I just keep working … I believe God (has a reason). There’s a reason for everything. There really is even when the situations, they do look bleak, he turns it into something I didn’t expect.”
Lin is in the final year of a three-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Houston Rockets in July 2012. He is being paid $14.8 million this season.