As we noted in last week's season preview, this season's Houston Rockets will be a very, very young team. This past weekend's stunning trade of speedy scorer Kevin Martin (nearly 30 years old) for bearded upgrade James Harden (barely 23) only accelerated the youth movement, as did general manager Daryl Morey's subsequent roster moves to trim Houston's roster to 15 players — 27-year-old cuts Gary Forbes and Shaun Livingston were two of the three oldest players on the Rockets' depth chart. As it stands, swingman Carlos Delfino (a relative graybeard at age 30) and reserve shooter Daequan Cook (all of 25) are the only Rockets with more than three years of NBA experience to their credit; amid all this youth, a new crop of leaders must emerge.
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So credit newly imported point guard Jeremy Lin, one of Morey's two prize restricted free agency acquisitions this summer, with trying to act like a veteran leader after news broke that rookie Jeremy Lamb had been part of the package shipped to Oklahoma City in exchange for Harden. The former New York Knicks point guard steeled himself, picked up his phone and dialed the 2012 lottery pick to wish him well, tell the kid to keep his head up and, one would suspect, suggest that he continue to rise and grind, as NBA players tend to do. It's a thoughtful, if difficult, thing to do.
Less difficult? Checking to make sure you're dialing the right number, which is something that — as you can see in the video above, shared by our friends at the via Rockets blog/community ClutchFans — fellow rookie Scott Machado would've appreciated.
More from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Machado had been nervously awaiting word on whether he had made the Rockets' roster. As Lin wished him well, his heart skipped a few beats until he realized he did not need to worry. Lin had thought he called Jeremy Lamb, who had just been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
By Monday, Machado knew [he] made the team when no one called.
"I was like, 'Hey, it's Scott, it's not Jeremy,'" Machado said of his conversation with Lin. "'Did you hear something about me?' I was all nervous. He was like, "Oh, I apologize, I apologize.' It all worked out."
It certainly did work out for Machado, a 22-year-old point guard who went undrafted out of Iona, but caught on with the Rockets after leading the nation in assists per game as a senior (9.9 dimes in 35.5 minutes per game) and finishing his collegiate career with the third-most assists in NCAA history (880, behind only Maryland triggerman Steve Blake and Kansas guard Aaron Miles) ranked 17th in assists in NCAA history (whoops). After impressing in his opportunities to run the Rockets' Summer League team, he continued to impress in preseason, surprising many by winning a spot on the roster ahead of veteran Livingston. Once the team had announced that it had parted ways with Livingston, Machado felt his place was secure ... only to have a tense moment when the phone rang and Lin was on the other end.
OK, so, not the smoothest move, Jeremy, but your instinct — call the disheartened rook, get your Semisonic on and make with the encouragement — was a good one. Just chalk this up to rookie hazing (and a rookie mistake for a leader) and keep it movin'.
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