Like everyone, my initial reaction to the news that Lin is joining the Hornets is: WHAAAAAAAAT?!
On paper and from an outsider perspective, who doesn’t know anything about the Hornets, this looks like a pretty terrible signing. Why would Lin want to go to a bottom-feeder team and back up a guard who, one could argue, he should be starting over?
Based on the damage that the Lakers did to Lin’s reputation, I was pretty pessimistic about Lin’s FA, so I guess in this sense this signing wasn’t too much of a surprise. At the same time, Lin signing with the Hornets is a total shock to me (and everyone else). The Hornets wasn’t even among the many teams linked with Lin in FA news.
It’s disheartening to think that the Hornets deal is the best offer Lin got. Aside from the playing situation (i.e., back up role on an awful team), the terms of the deal are pretty awful, since Lin is locked in for two years on a minimum salary. But no use dwelling on it. Lin appears to feel pretty good about it, because he feels that the Hornets coach understands his game. From what little I’ve read about the Hornets coach, Clifford, he does seem like he could be a good coach.So, we’ll see. Clifford is also very much a defensive-minded coach, so if he’s smart and doesn’t buy into the partly racial bias that Lin is a bad defender, then Clifford should appreciate Lin’s game. But we’ll have to see.
Overall, I just don’t know enough about the Hornets to really have a strong opinion about this whole situation. The thing I hate the most about it is that it looks like Lin will be backing up Walker, who I think is not as good of a point guard than Lin. I mean, Walker only averaged a pathetic 5.1 assists as a starter for the Hornets last season. Of course, Hornets’s bad offense is partly to blame for the low assist numbers. That being said, Lin managed to average 4.6 assists playing only around 25 minutes last season on like the worst team in the NBA in full tank mode.
The best scenario is that Lin somehow will start alongside Walker, but it looks like the Hornets are intent on having Lin run the second unit. So the only realistic best scenario is that Lin gets 30+ minutes a game. But that’s also highly unlikely.
There’s a good chance Lin fans will witness another season of tanking or something like that, since the Hornets have no reason to really try to compete. I don’t think the Hornets will tank on purpose, though, but they’ll lose a lot of games and be pretty frustrating to watch. They are in the East, though, so if they play Lin the right way and let Lin start, then the Hornets will be able to compete. But they’re likely not going to start Lin, so I’m prepared for another pretty frustrating season of seeing Lin’s team lose a lot.
In short, I’m not expecting much this season, but hope to be pleasantly surprised, since the Hornets is pretty much a blank slate to me. The only upside I see about this whole situation is that the Hornets coach looks like he could be good. So I think it all hinges on whether or not this coach believes in Lin. If so, then it could be a really fun season to watch.