The Houston Rockets are preparing to trade Jeremy Lin, even though they appear to be out of the running to sign LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. The point guard could be dealt in the coming days, as the organization prepares to sign a free agent to a maximum contract.
James could return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who he left in 2010, to join the Miami Heat, or he could re-sign with the Heat, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, while Anthony could return to the New York Knicks, or go to the Los Angeles Lakers or the Chicago Bulls. With the top two free agent stars seemingly unavailable, Houston has set its sights on Chris Bosh, and is reportedly prepared to pay him a max contract of $88 million over four years.
If the Rockets sign a max player, the team will have to create space under its salary cap. The Rockets have already cleared some room by agreeing to trade Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans, and the organization can get more space by trading Lin.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Rockets have found a taker for Lin. If Bosh agrees to sign with Houston, the team plans to trade the point guard to the Philadelphia 76ers. At the start of free agency, the 76ers had less than $26 million committed to their roster, allowing them to accept expensive contracts. Lin’s deal will expire in the summer of 2015, creating even more cap space for Philadelphia, who continues to compile assets without committing to any lucrative, long-term deals.
While Philadelphia might be prepared to acquire Lin, Houston could have some competition from another team that wants to make a trade with the 76ers. According to the New York Post, New York and Philadelphia have discussed a swap that would send Amare Stoudemire, and possibly Iman Shumpert, to the 76ers.
Stein has also reported that the Milwaukee Bucks are exploring the idea of trading for Lin. Milwaukee could use help at point guard, considering only Brandon Knight gives them experience at the position. But Lin’s $15 million salary may be a major stumbling block for a potential deal with Milwaukee.
If Bosh decides to return to Miami, Lin likely isn’t going anywhere. Houston would only trade Lin to offer a max contract to a player like Bosh, who might be the team's last hope of landing a top free agent. Bosh’s decision could largely depend on what James does. If the NBA’s best player doesn’t re-sign with the Heat, Bosh’s best chance to win would be with the Rockets.
Houston is doing all that it can to win a championship within the next few years, and it’s coming at the expense of Lin. The 25-year-old was a productive player for the Rockets in the 2013-2014 season, averaging 12.5 points and 4.1 assists in under 29 minutes per game. That said, the team will gladly trade him if it allows them to pair a third star with James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Lin was part of a team that won 54 games in the regular season, giving the Rockets the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Houston lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in six games in the first round of the playoffs.