You’ve gotta love it when a plan comes together.
The Los Angeles Lakers need warm bodies to fill up a 2014-15 roster that is woefully short on active contracts in the wake of a miserable 27-win season. They need someone to push the ball in what could be Steve Nash’s last season, assuming the Lakers don’t waive him this summer, and as Kobe Bryant creakily works his way back from an Achilles tear and broken leg. The team has plenty of cap space, an unending series of cap holds, and after missing out on Carmelo Anthony, it wants to retain flexibility as it heads into the 2015 offseason.
The Rockets? They want to win, now. And they’re set to pounce on the crackling remains of Miami’s former Big Three.
Houston, in trading Lin’s $8.3 million salary and a first round pick to Los Angeles (as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski), can now clear up enough cap space to sign Chris Bosh to a maximum contract. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey still has to finalize a deal sending center Omer Asik to New Orleans for a future pick (and, possibly, another contract in the wake of a smaller-than-expected 2014-15 salary cap), but following that move the Rockets will have enough room to add Bosh outright. Without even engaging Miami in sign-and-trade talks.
It’s true that Houston has until Sunday afternoon to either match or pass on the three-year, $46 million (geez) restricted free agent offer sheet Chandler Parsons signed with Dallas, but because Parsons’ cap hold is so minimal, that particular caveat won’t get in the way of Houston glomming onto Bosh. The secondary wheels are finally in motion, in the wake of LeBron James breaking up his partnership with Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and moving on to Cleveland.
Lin’s time in Houston could be best described as “fitful,” but when he was healthy and at his best the Harvard product was more than adept at what he does best – acting as a score-first ball-dominating lead guard while acting as a needed locker room voice. It is fair to question just how well that sort of skill set will work once paired up alongside a returning and impatient Kobe Bryant, but that’s true for any player this league has to offer. Nobody knows how to be Kobe’s teammate until you become Kobe’s teammate. If then, even.
Jeremy Lin “only” counts for $8.3 million in salary cap figures, but a balloon payment smartly orchestrated by Morey makes it so that he’ll actually be owed $15 million in real scrills by the Lakers next season, in the final year of his contract. Los Angeles prints money even during its lean years, and though 2014-15 still figures to be a lean year, so they can afford to take on Lin’s outsized payment in exchange for what will likely be a lower-rung first round pick. If Los Angeles’ own first round pick falls out of the top five next season, it will be sent to the Phoenix Suns as a result of 2012’s Steve Nash sign and trade.
After missing out on several big name free agents this summer, as of Friday afternoon, the Lakers will possibly take an approach not dissimilar to what the Dallas Mavericks have done in recent years, moving salary cap space forward from year to year after whiffing on big name free agents.
There’s no shame in that, because nobody was coming to Los Angeles this summer, and the Lakers certainly sealed the deal on not hiring Carmelo Anthony (who famously clashed with Jeremy Lin in New York back in 2012) as a free agent. The draft pick (and possible future second rounder) will not be an earth shaker, but they’re also being handed assets at a price they can afford.
Houston? They’ll miss Lin at times, in spite of starting guard Patrick Beverley’s gifts, but it’s more than worth it to attempt to take on Chris Bosh, and retain Chandler Parsons. The Rockets will still need to find some backcourt help, and they’ll be paying heaps of money to (they hope) Bosh, Parsons, Dwight Howard and James Harden, but that’s what championship contenders often have to do.
Just ask the Lakers. They remember.
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