Jeremy Lin Portrayed Prematurely As Unwanted Discard

The basketball pundits who had been insisting — erroneously — that Jeremy Lin was a flash in the pan are now coming out of the woodwork to declare him unwanted cap fodder now that Houston appears to be on the verge of signing center Dwight Howard without a deal to trade Lin.

Such premature proclamations of Lin’s pariah status during trade season are popping up in basketball sites like Blasksportsonline and Bleacherreport. The gist of their dark prognostications for Lin is that his performance during the season has exposed him to have been a marginal player who had managed to get himself overvalued on the strength of a few weeks of play over his head. They gloss over his solid season record and focus on his limited play during the playoffs, conveniently forgetting that a serious chest contusion had kept Lin from being able to shoot during three of those games.

The speculation about Lin’s fate as a discard unable to find a home is way premature, of course. There’s little doubt that Houston, in its perverse sudden blindness about Lin’s contributions, would love to relieve itself of Lin’s $8.3 mil average annual salary to spend on players like Atlanta forward Josh Smith or Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul as lures for Howard.

The Lin-bashers forget that the object of their determined scorn continues to have superstar appeal in every markets with large Asian populations — which happen to be most of the biggest metro areas — New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco Bay, Washington DC, Seattle and Portland. More importantly, his skill as a court general would make him an asset to at least a third of the teams in the NBA.

At this stage of trading season there’s a lot of posturing and precious little concrete bargaining going on. And the teams interested in Lin — probably at least a dozen — have no reason to tip their hand in light of how blatantly Houston has telegraphed its eagerness to do anything it can to clear room for Howard and his supposed trade cohorts. The other GMs know that a little patience will save them millions in any deal for Lin with a Howard-fixated Rockets management.

The eagerness of the basketball press to write off and stomp on Jeremy Lin even as his career is getting started gives us a hint of the kind of prejudice the first Asian American basketball star has had to face throughout his basketball career. No doubt the experience of having been miscast by the Rockets into a limited role during the past season has been unpleasant for Lin. On the other hand, it’s probably a valuable learning experience on his way to claiming his rightful place as probably the most talented and exciting point guards to emerge this decade.