The Houston Rockets are the hottest team in the NBA, having won seven straight games heading into the All-Star Break. Despite their strong play, the team is still looking to shake up their roster.
With the trade deadline quickly approaching on Thursday, the Rockets are reportedly shopping multiple players. It comes as no surprise that the team is looking to move Omer Asik, considering he requested a deal at the beginning of the season. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, though, reports that the organization is also trying to trade Jeremy Lin.
The Rockets have some depth in the backcourt. Lin was the starting point guard last year, but Patrick Beverley has begun the games when healthy this season. Joining Lin at the position is Aaron Brooks, who’s played 42 games in 2013-2014. Francisco Garcia is the backup shooting guard to James Harden.
While Beverley has moved into the starting role, Lin has still had a chance to shine. Due to injuries and lineup changes, the 25-year-old has been in the starting lineup 58 percent of the time he’s played, averaging 31.1 minutes per game. His 13.3 points per game is almost identical to what he registered last year, though he’s been more efficient this time around. Lin is shooting a career-high 46.5 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range. He’s scoring the same as a year ago, but on 1.5 fewer shots per contest.
Houston is playing well with Lin, but their surplus of guards may make him expendable. The Rockets have been looking to add a stretch-four to their lineup to play alongside Dwight Howard. If Asik can’t bring them that athletic power forward they’ve been looking for, perhaps trading Lin can do it.
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Point guards appear to be in high demand at the deadline. The New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings are reportedly trying to acquire a point guard. Players like Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague have also been mentioned in trade rumors. Lin might not have the track record of those players. However, those same players may also not be available, and Lin could look like a more attractive option for teams that get rebuffed by the likes of the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks.
Lin’s contract is likely the biggest deterrent for teams that are interested in him. He signed a “poison pill” contract with the Rockets, which elevates his salary from $5.2 million this year to almost $15 million next season. Teams that are looking to make a splash in free agency this summer would be reluctant to trade for Lin.
The best chance the Rockets have of unloading Lin would be to send him to a team that will already be hamstrung by salary cap restrictions this offseason. The Harvard grad will be overpaid by NBA standards in 2014-2015, but he’ll be a valuable commodity once the season begins.
Lin is set to become a free agent in 2015, and expiring contracts are always assets for teams looking to get under the salary cap.
If Houston holds onto Lin, he can still be an integral part of their playoff run. The Rockets entered the break with the third-best record in the Western Conference.