Center DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors. That should prove to Brooklyn that there is a market for guard Jeremy Lin.
The summer of 2016 was met with heavy spending by nearly all NBA teams. The Brooklyn Nets considered Jeremy Lin’s three-year, $38-million contract one of the better bargain deals that year.
Two seasons and just 37 games later, that much can be debated.
But in more recent NBA news, four-time NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins signed a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors. It nearly tore NBA Twitter in half.
Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports was first with a report:
Free agent DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a deal with the Golden State Warriors, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2018
Cousins is coming off a torn Achilles tendon which he suffered in January. Lin went down with a torn patella tendon early last year. Both injuries are extremely similar in terms of timeline for return to action.
With conflicting rumors of his availability circling back and forth, Cousins’ signing proves there is a (although maybe thin) market for the point guard.
Why would the Nets want to trade Lin?
One could argue his productivity when healthy speaks volumes to retaining the eight-year veteran.
In his 36-game stint with Brooklyn at the end of the 2017-2018 season, he averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per game. There were flashes of the “Linsanity” New York is so familiar with and a potential leader for the young locker room.
An entire season later, the Brooklyn Nets guard rotation is not so young and has hit a deadlock.
D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are competing for the starting job at point guard, while Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe are all interchangeable at the shooting guard slot.
Lin is nothing more than a wrench in the mix and makes the situation all the more difficult. Healthy, you can’t let an asset like this sit on the bench, nor can you afford to disrupt the current guard rotation trying to work him back in.
So, you hit the trade market. While Cousins signed a lesser deal than Lin’s $12.5 salary, the newest Golden State Warrior isn’t expected back on the court until late December.
All signs point to Brooklyn’s point guard being available for training camp, which should justify him taking up twice as much cap space. For a team that needs a starting point guard, he could prove either a best buy; or at worst, just an expiring roster spot.
That raises the question of who would be interested in a potential Lin deal and more importantly, be willing to roll the dice. The first two teams that come to mind are Orlando and Phoenix.
Orlando traded away starting point guard Elfrid Payton at the deadline last year and has yet to sign a starting replacement. Keith Smith of Real GM is reporting that there’s mutual interest between the Magic and free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas:
Sounds like there is some level of mutual interest between the Orlando Magic and free agent guard Isaiah Thomas. Dance is around money, but it would almost assuredly be a one-year deal.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 3, 2018
Forward Terrence Ross is on an expiring $10.5 million deal with Orlando, and would certainly interest the Nets. He averaged 8.7 points and 1.1 steals in 24 games with the Magic last year.
Phoenix’s Brandon Knight most recently went through his first full practice with the team, after tearing his ACL back in February. Their only option for starting guard, a Lin deal would make a lot of sense depending on how much progress Knight has made.
Then again; it’s hard to see the Suns (in all their folly) trading any kind of asset for the opportunity to host two point guards rehabbing season-ending injuries.
Prior to the Ed Davis signing, it was rumored that Brooklyn could take interest in one of Dragan Bender or Tyson Chandler. Hard to see that holding up today.
Would Brooklyn trade Lin? He’s been a huge voice in the locker room and is already on an expiring deal himself.
Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports reported that the Nets have yet to shop him in trade talks:
League source: The #Nets are not actively shopping anyone on their roster, including PG Jeremy Lin, who will make $12.5M next season before becoming a free agent in 2019.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 2, 2018
That being said, it’s the NBA; anything can happen. If general manager Sean Marks hears the right deal come through the phones, it may be time to make the hard choice.
Recently signed DeMarcus Cousins proves that even a player rehabbing from an Achilles’ tear holds value on today’s market.
While Jeremy Lin isn’t the best player at his position when healthy, he’s likely still a starting talent. His brilliant on-court IQ and scoring capacity make him the ideal choice for any team in strong need of a point guard.
Should the Nets’ find an offer including any kind of draft pick, or expiring veteran talent, it would be no surprise to see them trade even a key member of the culture.