The Los Angeles Lakers were unable to use their salary-cap space to sign any major free agents this offseason, so the biggest trade they made was acquiring Jeremy Lin. L.A. dealt for the point guard last month, sending the rights to center Sergei Lishchuk to the Houston Rockets, while also receiving a future first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick in return.
Lin becomes part of a backcourt that will look completely different from the team that won 27 games in the 2013-2014 season. At point guard, Lin will play alongside Kobe Bryant, who missed all but six games with two different injuries. Steve Nash remains with the Lakers after having missed 67 games in two seasons.
The addition of Lin is an improvement to a team had one of the worst records in the league. However, it’s unknown how the 25-year-old will perform when playing next to Bryant.
While Bryant has managed to become one of the best players in NBA history, he can be difficult to play with for some. As a player at the top of the sport, he can be very demanding, and has had a few notable run-ins with former teammates. In addition to his infamous feud with Shaquille O’Neal, he’s also had issues with lesser players. Smush Parker was the Lakers’ starting point guard from 2005 to 2007, and he recently recalled how Bryant refused to talk to him.
"He told me one day at practice – I tried to talk to him outside of basketball, about football. And he looked at me in practice and was dead serious and said, ‘You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me,’” Parker said on ESPN’s "Highly Questionable."
Lin isn’t unfamiliar with clashing with a star player. He burst onto the scene with the New York Knicks in 2012, but left in the summer as a free agent. Carmelo Anthony reportedly wanted Lin out of New York, and even called Houston’s contract offer to the point guard “ridiculous.”
During his time with the Knicks and Rockets, Lin performed his best as a scorer with the ball in his hands. That could potentially be an issue with Bryant, who remains the Lakers’ top scoring option, as he attempted over 20 shots per game in his last full season.
In Los Angeles, though, Lin’s skillset might be exactly what the Lakers need. After missing 76 games last year and entering his 19th career season, Bryant may have difficulty equaling his career scoring average of 25.5 points per game. In his limited playing time last year, the future Hall of Famer took just 12 shots per contest and averaged a career-high 6.3 assists. Bryant may need a guard who can score and takeover the offense on occasion, and Lin has the capability to do so.
L.A. was in need of a point guard this offseason, having cut ties with Kendall Marshall and considering Nash’s recent injury history. The veteran Nash is under contract for one more year, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the court with the Lakers, and Lin is likely to be the team’s full-time starter.
After becoming a national phenomenon with “Linsanity,” Lin has proven that he’s not one of the top point guards in the NBA. However, he’s played the last two seasons with James Harden, arguably the league’s best shooting guard, and made back-to-back playoff appearances. Entering his fifth season, Lin has a lot of experience playing with top stars, and should be more than equipped to succeed with Bryant.