Regardless of how you feel, I think it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Lin will be coming off the bench this season. I also just learned from MrPingPong, one of the dedicated commentators on this blog, that Beverley will be starting for a second straight game, which is very odd. But it goes along with the fact that I’ve pretty much been expecting McHale to start Beverley since the past couple of games. I think there are several reasons for this from McHale’s and Morey’s perspectives:
- They think Harden can be the distributor for Howard, so they don’t see Lin being necessary in the starting lineup.
- They think Lin meshes better with the second unit (i.e., Caspi, DMo, Garcia).
- They think Beverley fits better with Harden.
- Harden, I’m sure, has been lobbying hard for Beverley to start over Lin behind the scenes. It’s very clear to me where Harden stands from the way he plays with Lin vs. with Beverley, as well as in Harden’s comments to the press. Harden makes a concerted effort to pass to Beverley, whereas he only passes to Lin when he has no other options.
- They are grooming Beverley to be their starting point guard of the future (since they don’t see the necessity of having Lin and Harden on the same starting lineup) and this could be the first step they take to figure out a way to trade Lin (and Asik) and bring in another star.
If Lin plays fewer minutes than Beverley, then this is for sure a demotion for Lin. If Lin plays more minutes than Beverley and finishes nearly all if not all of the games, then this could turn out to be a good thing for Lin, because he’ll have more freedom to operate with the second unit. When Lin plays with Harden, Lin tends to be way too passive. Harden made this comment in the first game that they had Lin came off the bench: said that Lin seemed like he was playing a lot looser and freer out there with the second unit. I’m paraphrasing, of course.
In summary, because of the overwhelming case I see from McHale’s and the Rockets’s perspective, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Lin will come off the bench this season. As for whether or not he’ll act as a 6th man, that’s yet to be determined. If Lin doesn’t play the role of the 6th man on this team, then this is a clear demotion and this is just another way McHale has figured out to marginalize Lin on the team and it has a lot to do with the McFale/Lin dynamics.