Rockets Getting Some New ‘Lincertainty’


VIDEO: Jeremy Lin has 18 points and four assists off the bench as the Rockets beat the Bucks

MILWAUKEE – Before Linsanity – those heady few months in the winter of 2012 that turned Jeremy Lin into a near-household name and helped the NBA heal from the rancorous lockout that delayed its season – there was uncertainty.

And after it, too.

About a week before his basketball world blew up (mostly) in a good way, Lin was praying just to keep his job. At a pregame chapel session in Miami on Jan. 27 that season attended by some players from both teams, Lin asked: “If you could say a prayer for me that I don’t get cut.” Fellows such as Landry Fields and Jerome Jordan, Lin’s Knicks teammates, and Heat forward Udonis Haslem heard a fringe guy sweating out the deadline date that year for contracts to be guaranteed.

Then Lin scored 25, 28, 23 and 38 points from Feb. 4 right through the Feb. 10 deadline, then kept going. In 11 games, the undrafted Harvard guy averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 50 percent and helping New York win seven in a row and nine of 11.

Life hasn’t been the same since: a frenzied “15 minutes” of fame as a pop culture icon, massive All-Star vote totals inspired at least in part by Lin’s Asian-American heritage and a three-year, $25 million contract from Houston in free agency.

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been uncertainty.

In a season and a half with the Rockets, Lin has established himself as a solid NBA rotation player but not that meteor streaking across the middle of 2011-12. He started 82 games last season but dipped in production (13.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, 44.1 FG), then got pancaked in Houston’s playoff series against Oklahoma City (4.0 ppg, 6-of-24 shooting, as many turnovers as assists).

This season, Lin has been in and out of the starting lineup, due partly to injuries (10 games missed with a knee sprain or back spasms) and partly to other injuries and combinations in the Rockets’ deep backcourt (James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Aaron Brooks). Mixed results and dissatisfaction among fans even fueled some Lin trade rumors, though his $15 million “balloon” salary in 2013-14 likely doesn’t have clubs beating down GM Daryl Morey‘s door.

But a light of sorts went on for Lin on Jan. 28 against San Antonio when he subbed as a starter for Harden, and it stayed on since he moved back to the bench. Beginning that night, Houston has won five straight and Lin has been in attack mode, averaging 16.0 points, 6.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 33.3 minutes, while shooting 50 percent (38.9 from the arc). His numbers prior to that were down across the board, in reserve or starting.

“Just trying to be aggressive, just trying to play free and trying to be myself out there,” Lin said after the Rockets’ 101-95 victory over Milwaukee Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. “That’s the biggest thing, just embrace whatever role they give me, big or small.”

Lin scored his 18 points in the first 19 minutes he logged against the Bucks, shooting 8-of-15 with four assists and a pair of steals. He played the entire fourth quarter and posted one particular roundabout highlight feed to Dwight Howard. He ran the offense up to a point, but kept his offense as a priority too.

“I still am responsible for getting other people going,” Lin said, “but I just think for me, whether I’m at the one or the two, I want to try to be very aggressive and attack a lot. Some nights it’s getting other people involved and some nights it’s getting myself involved.”

Houston coach Kevin McHale wants nothing less. “He needs to be aggressive,” McHale said recently. “Jeremy plays his best when he’s attacking, and when we have some pace in the game it really helps him.”

Lin has 19 appearances in reserve so far and 24 as a starter, so he needs to stick with the bench if he wants to get into the discussion for Sixth Man balloting. Harden is somebody who knows a little about that role, filling it to hardware- and conference-winning effect for the Thunder before his trade to Houston.

“He’s doing a great job,” Harden said of Lin. “He’s getting a feel for the game before he checks in, and once he checks in, he’s being aggressive and making the right plays. The more games he can get used to coming off the bench, the better off he’ll be.”

Playing the game mentally before actually playing in the game is the key, Harden said. “It’s the first six or seven minutes of the game,” said the Rockets’ leading scorer. “Knowing how the game is played, knowing who’s hot on the other team, knowing who has it going and who doesn’t have it going, and then just going out there and having an impact.”

51 Comments

  1. SLU says:

    Ya’ll should check out his life’s story in the documentary Linsanity (www.linsanitythemovie.com) to better appreciate everything! Amazing journey and considering we are still talking about a kid out of Harvard who was not drafted, what he’s doing right now ain’t bad right? Linsanity created a crazy burden of expectation. Take out those 3 weeks and what he’s done since is way more than what you’d expect of an undrafted Ivy Leaguer, right?

  2. Bruce 15 says:

    Lin is the best player in the game rite now

  3. Ever says:

    Even at Lin’s best performance “Linsanity”, the legendary coach Larry Brown said “I think the kid was the great. The system helped him be really great,” Brown said of Lin. “It’s a wonderful story. But I look at him as a terrific backup in the NBA. I may be wrong, I really want him to be successful but I think if you overpay him for the interest that he created that’s not the best thing.”

    As Rocket kept on trading Lin from last summer till now as well as put Lin from starter to backup this season, Larry Brown sure had the accurate insight of Lin’s actual ability.

  4. installerx says:

    Lin is good. The New York stint isn’t a fluke, he’s got really good basketball IQ and deceptive quickness. The coach has to know how to use him (ie. Nash of the old Suns and Dragic of the current Suns). Spread the floor and run-pick and rolls and play team basketball and that’s where Lin will shine. If you have player that is ball dominant ie. Carmelo Anthony or J.Harden then you minimize Lin’s effectiveness.

  5. NYCBBallFan says:

    Decent article. I wish the writer had delved more into WHY JLin struggled last yr. and WHY he he has struggled at times this yr. Also, he doesn’t need to ride the bench. He may not be the best player on the team, but he’s the best PG they have and the NBA’s own stats show that the ROX win more games when he starts than when he’s a reserve ( in his 24 starts, the ROX are 17-7, meaning they won just under 71% of the games he started. In his 17 games as a reserve, the ROX won 11 of them, or just under 65%) Still, I do appreciate a generally positive Lin article, as the fad these days is to needlessly hate on the kid.

  6. Segun Femi-Ishola says:

    How does he put up 13.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, 44.1 FG in his first season with the Rockets and still gets bashed like he didn’t even average double digits. Lots of players earning far more and producing so much less. Give him a break, he earned his money and he’s leaving up to it although it’s true he can still do better.

  7. kellogs says:

    wth is lincertainty? Uncertainty??? It’s not even good wordplay???????

  8. Aaron Tan says:

    Lin is so cool!

  9. kek says:

    if rockets didnt trade for harden last season, lin would average 17 – 18 pts a game, when he was in new york they had so many injuries that they had to start and undrafted PG from harvard that had already been cut by 2 teams, just think about that, thats how bad the situation was for new york, and lin got to have the ball in his hands the whole tome, shoot 20+ shots every game.

    So for people to expect him coming into houston with harden and parsons to average 20+ pts is ridicilous, Lin is not a star player, he`s an good solid nba player, that brings good numbers. and can help your team.

  10. 1forest1 says:

    Lin does not deserve all the criticism he received last year. Okay he may have had a terrible start last year, but he needed time to adjust, and once he did, he went on a roll and played very well up until he got injured with what I think was a chest contusion.That is the reason why he played so bad in the playoffs,
    I honestly wasn’t a Lin fan, and hated that the rockets let dragic and Lowry go to sign Lin to a big contract, but I have changed my mind about lin, and consider him vital to the rockets success. It’s really nice to see this article

  11. robert says:

    Lin’s not really a point guard in my opinion. He’s more of a shooting guard. He reminds me a bit of Drexler. As such he should come off the bench since Harden is the obvious starting shooting guard. Lin has a better chance of scoring when Harden is sitting anyway.

    • LOL says:

      Remind you of Drexler?? How so? lol i cant think of much of anythng that reminds me of Clyde the Glide when talkin about Lin.

  12. eX says:

    Lin at best 3rd poin gaurd on the rockets roster, i hope he stay longer on the bench and we get AaronBrook as a reserve pg

  13. CharlesSie says:

    well he just doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much as he did when he was with the Knicks.

    He did make the Knicks team better, I watched pretty much every game during that Linsanity days and now guys like Landry Fields and Steve Novak who played big roles end up being so much less of an impact to the game.

    Good to see him adapting to a new role though.

  14. Casey says:

    As soon as he comes off the bench more times than he started this season, is is one of the leading contenders for the 6th man of the year award

  15. Rocketsfan says:

    As long as Rockets uses Lin in a right way and gives him trust that he needs, Lin’s sky is high. Just don’t understand why they tried to make him down early this year since they paid him that contract. Coach should make teammates trust and help each other not be selfish. Many times, rockets couldn’t win by using ISO plays. They should play team ball.

  16. charles barkely says:

    listen will see will see. and i know okay i know so will see. go knicks

  17. NOGud says:

    lin is nogud cz all he can do is lay the ball in.

  18. BS says:

    That is looks more accurate as the Rockets’ leading scorer. “Knowing no matter how the game is played, and then just going out playing as my way.”

  19. allaroundballer says:

    Lin’s not superstar, but pretty smart player. He’ll adjust. Linsanity is memorable, leave it alone because this proccess is the real thing. Chinese people came to america or anywhere in the world and they survive. That’s the spirit

    • LOL says:

      Lots of people come to Amercia and survive not just the Chinese

    • huh says:

      So did the african Americans, causians, hispanics, etc…not just chinese. Kinda racist on that remark?? Or just didnt think it through on your thought.

  20. fair palmer says:

    Harden on Lin:“The more games he can get used to coming off the bench, the better off he’ll be.”

    It sounds that Harden is really interested to keep Lin ON the bench.

    • dq says:

      yeah ikr…I think with Lin and Beverley on the court they play better defense than with Harden and Beverley…

      • gg says:

        of course they do, harden doesn’t really play defense at all. If we were to rate them:

        Offense:

        Harden >> Lin >>>> Beverley

        Defense:

        Beverley >>> Lin >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Harden

        McHale is pretty much forced to play Beverley to make up for Harden’s poor defense.

  21. Linsanity says:

    Yes Harden, and if u can move the ball just couple more times, the Houston Offense is unstoppable. Almost every time the ball is in your hands and stays in your hands, the offense is just stopped there. Gotta involve other players then u win games. And Coach MchHale, you have a lot of player on the roster. Play them, dont just use 8 players every game.

  22. WINTEE says:

    LINSANSITY 2.0 COMMING SOON.

  23. nahor88 says:

    Rockets have the luxury of 3 different starting point guards, few teams can compare to that, if any.
    Brooks is better than a lot of point guards in the East, and he’s 3rd string.
    With Asik back, all they have to do is build some depth at power forward, especially against teams like the Pacers, and they can beat ANYONE.

  24. MJ23 says:

    Funny how haters say Lin’s overrated, but the fact is he’s actually underrated now.

  25. Phil says:

    Honestly, Kevin McHale is the most unintelligible coach in the NBA for not start Jeremy Lin. He hides behind his Hall of Fame player status to pretend like he’s a good coach, but really he’s a dupe. He hasn’t been able to teach Dwight Howard a single post move since he’s been there.

    • keek says:

      Mchale is great at player development, but I have to agree, he is not a very good head coach.

    • Dave says:

      Dwight Howard has had the opportunity to learn from Patrick Ewing, Kareem, and now McHale and the greatest, Hakeem… If he doesn’t have post moves it’s because he is not capable of being taught… His physical size and atheltic build get him through.. but he could be so much better if he had the brains to go with it…

  26. dustydreamnz says:

    He seems suited to a bench role.

  27. okc2014 says:

    As long as we are discussing Jeremy Lin in terms of a 6th man vs a starter, it’s all good. I hope they don’t trade him to a team that plans to start him. Then it’s all downhill for Linsanity. Houston should keep him, but with his positive energy, quickness, and agility, a lot of teams could really use him too. He has several good years ahead of him and I wish this guy the best.

  28. Enderwilson says:

    OK, I think you’ve lost the logic of the word play. “Linsanity” is a hybrid of Jeremy Lin’s surname with ‘insanity’. This effectively described the hype around the unexpected and insanely high level of play coming from what was an undrafted and presumed perennial NBA journeyman. Now you are trying to make of hybrid of Lin’s name with… what?? “Incertainty”??? I don’t think you’ve thought this through very well.

  29. Mike says:

    Great Article.

  30. Linsanity Reloaded says:

    I think Lin is better than Dragic, its not easy to be overshadowed by talented players such as Harden and Howard and still making big impact and at times stealing the spotlight on some nights. And not to mention McHale is somewhat holding the leash tightly on him. If only Lin is playing under the mentor of Hornacek.

  31. Chungkwailong says:

    LET’S GO LINSANITY!!!!

  32. Bball7 says:

    Jeremy Lin has been playing well as of late, although he is definitely not playing up to that contract. However, he may reach that point in a few years, definitely is improving just needs that solid jumper. Could see him as a Tony Parker type, maybe not as fast

    • gg says:

      he’s shown before that he can put up those numbers as long as he gets the ball. People need to realize that with harden there, harden gets the ball most of the time, hence why lin’s not putting up insane numbers any more.

    • Leslie Alexander says:

      He acquired that huge contract because of his marketability. Specially with the Rockets having a large fan base in China.

    • Rockets says:

      Playing up to his contract? He already made that money back from advertising in Asian markets alone. Can Ty Lawson sell products in China?

  33. Unkle Daddy says:

    That’s how he played in NY when he got noticed, he was always attacking and pushing the ball, that’s when he plays his best, some guys just have to run to be affective. Look at two of the best to ever do it in Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, they always tryed to push the ball and keep it moving. It’s harder to defend a ball, than it is a man.

  34. alan says:

    I disagree. It’s unfair to compare Lin on the Rockets today to when he was leading the Knicks. The Knicks at the time were so depleted, they were forced to go with Lin as the QB and the primary ball handler. Lin is still very capable of putting up those gaudy numbers if he had the ball in his hands a la Steven Nash and the Suns. That being said, the Rockets are winning, and it’s not only because of Lin, the play of Beverly has also been stellar. Dwight’s been a beast as well. And the Rockets would be fighting for the 8th seed without the emergence of Terrence Jones (in the wake of Asik drama).

  35. Paper wise…Houston is pretty solid…if only Asik accepted the role of back-up to Howard….then the rockets would be a really deadly team

  36. dontlistentothat says:

    jeremy lin isnt good he just tries

    • dq says:

      And you have what evidence for this?

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      Counter argument: Jeremy Lin isn’t talented. but he’s pretty good because he tries.

      And frankly I don’t care if Linsanity has faded I’m always gonna root for him because he’s the ultimate underdog.

      And you can tell he has heart. A lot of great players have heart but it doesn’t show as much because it is overshadowed by talent and ego and superstardom. There’s something refreshing about seeing a player like Lin who is all heart with little talent and ego. He’s like the hero underdog in every sports movie, but in real life!

    • Rockets says:

      Oh, so trying is a bad thing? Tell that to J.R. Smith and the dozens of players who just rely on talent and doesn’t even try.