With yesterday’s draft and as Free Agency approaches, teams are starting to make moves. Some of those moves have Lin fans concerned about Lin’s options in Free Agency. With Derrick Rose going to the Knicks, it’s clear Lin is no longer welcomed there and Dolan is a small-minded, petulant little spoiled brat (as if there was any doubt). So for the minority of Lin fans who wanted Lin to return to MSG (I suspect many of these Lin fans are also closet Knicks fans), that ain’t happening. Also with George Hill going to Utah, another team that’s in need of a starting PG is also off the list. But with Derrick Rose out of Chicago, the Bulls become a very intriguing option. Bulls are even looking to trade Butler, which could make the Bulls even more or less attractive for Lin depending on how much you think Butler will take the ball out of Lin’s hands. I have to give credit to Ace, one of the regular readers and commentators on this blog, who has been talking about the Bulls as a good potential destination for Lin back during the regular season, I believe. If not, then definitely soon after Lin’s playoff run ended. [NOTE: all of Ace’s comments, as well as every comment to previous posts have, unfortunately, disappeared from this site as I recently switched to Disqus’s comments platform]. The main attraction for Lin joining the Bulls is Fred Hoiberg’s fast-pace offensive scheme. So with Derrick Rose gone, the Bulls is now my number 2 option for Lin–especially if they also get rid of Butler, since I do think Butler will take the ball out of Lin’s hands. Although a Lin/Butler back court would be the best defensive back court in the league. So I’m a little torn about Butler.
Of course, my number one option for Lin still remains the Nets. I haven’t seen Lin fan making note of the Teague trade from Hawks to Indiana as it relates to Lin’s chances of landing with the Nets. Teague played under Atkinson and some analysts and fans (I was definitely NOT one of them) thought that Atkinson may recruit Teague to the Nets, since the Nets are in need of a starting PG. Well, with Teague going to the Pacers, it looks like Atkinson didn’t have interest trading for Teague. So that’s worth noting.
Although the Nets remains my number one option for Lin, I’m taking more of a wait-and-see approach. The Nets trading Thaddeous Young for the No. 20th pick in yesterday’s draft and a future second-round pick has a lot of Lin fans concerned, because it may indicate that the Nets are going into a full rebuild mode and potentially looking to tank this season. If this is the case, then it is unlikely that Lin would be interested in wasting another season of his career playing in a tank situation. But to these Lin fans, I would say to hold off on counting out the Nets and take a step back to look at the Young trade from another perspective.
It is true that Young is the Nets’s second best player, but that’s not really saying much. Young was good a few years ago, but he’s not the same player he used to be. And it’s definitely not unreasonable to think that Atkinson and Marks don’t see him in their future plans for the Nets. Now it is a little concerning that, rather than trading Young to get a veteran-type player, the Nets opted for collecting draft picks, which is an indication of full rebuilding mode. My response to this is that it’s not inconceivable that the Nets couldn’t get anyone they really wanted for Young and so preferred to get draft picks, rather than players who would eat into their cap space.
So, another way to look at the Young trade is that it’s simply a way of increasing the Nets’s cap space for this free agency by getting rid of a player that Atkinson/Marks don’t see factoring into their future plans. So this is why I think it’s wise to hold off drawing conclusions about the Nets’s Young trade. Let’s wait to see what the Nets do with their increased cap space. I have no doubt that Atkinson is trying to convince Al Horford and Kent Bazemore (who both played under Atkinson in Atlanta, Horford in particular is really close to Atkinson) to join him in Brooklyn, but I’d be surprised if Horford and Bazemore want to go to the Nets. So it’s a bit of a long shot. But this could be the reason why the Nets want to clear up some cap space by getting rid of Young. Who knows, maybe Atkinson has already convinced Horford to join him in Brooklyn. If that’s the case, that would be huge for the Nets and makes the Nets even more attractive for Lin than it already is. To me, the dream scenario would be for Lin, Horford and Bazemore to join the Nets.
Now, the Nets could have very positive intentions in getting rid of Young and clearing up cap space, but still have a hard time convincing free agents to come to Brooklyn. That is definitely a possibility. So, while Atkinson/Marks may not want to be in full-rebuild mode, they may not have a choice if they can’t pick up any good free agents this off-season and may be forced to go into full-rebuild mode. So the move to trade Young and clear up cap space, while collecting draft picks is a move that makes sense from both perspectives: clear up cap space in order to have the money to go after good free agents, but collect picks just in case you can’t convince free agents to come and have to be forced to go into full-rebuild mode. So, overall, I think trading Young is a very smart move by Marks/Atkinson. And this is why Nets still remain my number 1 choice for Jeremy Lin.