Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin will be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers or the Clippers, according to the latest NBA trade rumors based mainly on Houston’s expressed determination to land Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
The logic seems airtight to basketball pundit. The Rockets have been hankering after telegenic bruiser Dwight Howard to fortify their presence under the basket while deprecating Lin’s role as the primary ball-handler. Presumably he would be delighted at the chance to reprise Linsanity in the nation’s biggest Asian market under Mike D’Antoni, the coach who ignited the phenom by putting the ball into his hands.
Howard has been signaling a desire to leave the Lakers where he’s been surprisingly listless for most of the past season. Eight-year veteran and All-Star MVP Paul has been expressing disenchantment with the Clippers after the team collapsed in the first round of the playoffs and cut loose coach Vinny Del Negro while laying the decision at Paul’s feet. And the 6-foot mighty mite is said to have sealed a blood oath with Howard to play together after they both become free agents on July 1.
The easiest path toward fulfilling the rumor-prophecy-wishful thinking would be for the Lakers to sign Howard with the promise to trade him to the Lakers and acquire Paul. The Rockets — who have ample cap space under the draconian new luxury tax rules to sign Howard outright — are said to be willing to offer the Lakers the package of Lin and Turkish center Omer Asik for Howard. Under the circumstances, the Lakers would be foolish to reject a deal that would ensure a proven duo and a potential new box-office star to replace Kobe Bryant who has declared his intention to retire after the upcoming season.
The Lakers’ only hesitation seems to be concern about being hit with a huge luxury tax for signing Howard even if only to trade him. But that would be a small price to pay if Lin and D’Antoni can reignite the kind of chemistry that reversed the Knick’s fortunes overnight — something of which the Lakers are badly in need.
If the Lakers should foolishly pass on the opportunity, the Clippers have the motivation decide to gamble on the Lin-Asik duo in light of Paul’s apparent decision to leave. There’s even a significant probability that D’Antoni may move across town given rumors of disenchantment on the part of at least a faction of the Lakers ownership.
Either way, the next NBA season promises to bring a much-needed opportunity for Lin to make a fresh start in a town that will appreciate his presence far more than Houston has.