Did David Stern unintentionally direct Jeremy Lin to the New York Knicks?
The commissioner vetoed the first Chris Paul trade, which would have sent Houston Rockets point guard Goran Dragic to the New Orleans Hornets.
The Rockets had five point guards in training camp – Lin, Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Jonny Flynn and Bulgarian combo guard Ibrahim Jabeer, who did not play in either preseason game. Lin didn’t exactly burn, either, getting eight total minutes.
Lowry, Dragic and Flynn had guaranteed contracts, so the odds of Lin sticking as a fourth point guard were longer than winning Powerball. Rockets GM Daryl Morey even said as much, mentioning the guarantees as an issue in a Twitter chat last week.
But if Stern hadn’t vetoed the first Paul trade, Dragic would have been in New Orleans, and Lin likely would have become Houston’s emergency point guard.
Instead, Lin was cut – on Christmas Eve – and returned to the Bay Area. The Knicks, in the Bay Area on an early road trip, signed Lin to be their third point guard behind Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby after rookie Iman Shumpert – who plays the point, but not well – was injured in the season-opening Christmas win over Boston.
Had Lin remained in Houston, there is no way to know whether or not the Rockets would have waived him before last week’s contract guarantee deadline. However, it is a virtual certainty that Lin would have remained buried on the bench behind Lowry and Dragic, both of whom have been healthy and playing well this season.
Linteresting, don’t you think?
TRIVIA: Which active NBA player has scored the most career points without making an All-Star team? Answer below.
THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: In addition to this abject insensitivity from the Evil Empire, the phenomenon surrounding Jeremy Lin has extended to a website that will make headline writing Linfinitely easier for copy desk editors everywhere.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Sacramento Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas – not related at all to the franchise-wrecking former coach and president of the New York Knicks – after he was booed when his name was announced at Madison Square Garden:
“I knew it was going to happen here. I was expecting something. Spike Lee told me next time you come to New York, you better change your name.”
LINE OF THE WEEK: Josh Smith, Atlanta at Phoenix, Feb. 15: 45 minutes, 12-23 FGs, 2-3 3-pointers, 4-6 FTs, 17 rebounds, seven assists, four steals, three blocks, 30 points in a 101-99 win. For the secocnd time this season, Smith seriously threatened to post the NBA’s first “five by five” game in six years. And for the second time this season, he earns this spot.
LINE OF THE WEAK: Brandon Knight, Detroit vs. Washington, Feb. 12: 31 minutes, 1-9 FGs, 0-3 3-pointers, one rebound, two assists, one steal, three turnovers, two points in a 98-77 loss. Knight’s awful showing went a long way toward ending Detroit’s season-high four-game winning streak, but that wasn’t the worst part. He was schooled by fellow Kentucky alum John Wall, who tossed his jersey to a girl wearing Knight’s jersey as he left the floor. The girl changed jerseys.
TRILLION WATCH: Heat rookie Mickell Gladness topped the charts with a 5 trillion on Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t come close to cracking the top spots this season still held by Lakers forwards Devin Ebanks (9 trillion) and Jason Kapono (8 and 7).
GAME OF THE WEEK: New York at Miami, Feb. 23. On the last night before the All-Star break, the rivalry is renewed. Linsanity alights upon South Beach, where the Heat are playing perhaps their best basketball since LeBron James arrived.
GAME OF THE WEAK: Sacramento at Washington, Feb. 22. A matchup of the two teams that have changed coaches this season. It is the finale of a six-game road trip for the Kings. The Wizards have three home wins, beating Toronto twice and Charlotte. Impressive.
TWO MINUTES: Clippers star Chris Paul called himself a “dummy” after his careless pass led to Gary Neal’s game-tying 3-pointer in Saturday’s OT loss to the Spurs. But what went overlooked was Ryan Gomes’ awful inbounds pass, which gave a sprinting Paul no room to stop before committing a backcourt violation. That’s the second time this season Gomes has made a terrible inbounds pass with the game in the balance; he threw away one last week in Philadelphia that cost Los Angeles the lead, but the Clippers recovered to win. … We got a kick out of the ESPN report on Allen Iverson wanting to return to the NBA, which quoted a source as saying, “He wants to get back to the NBA and leave on his terms.” Didn’t he do that already? His terms were he wouldn’t come off the bench. Detroit and Memphis told him to leave. … Lakers coach Mike Brown got into it a bit with Metta World Peace, who told CBSSports.com that he is frustrated because the coach relies too heavily on stats to influence his personnel moves. After meeting with his small forward, Brown said, “If I were him, I’d be frustrated, too. I told him: ‘I don’t take anything personally. I’m OK with it. But if I was a stats guy, Metta, you wouldn’t be playing at all. I mean, look at your stats. And Synergy says you’re the 192nd-best defensive player in the league.'” World Peace is averaging a career-low 4.8 points and has scored in double digits twice since New Year’s Day. … Charlotte’s win at Toronto on Friday did more than end a franchise-record 16-game losing streak. The Bobcats bumped their winning percentage from .103 to .133, which may not seem like much but puts them ahead of the pace of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73 for a winning percentage of .110. … When Dirk Nowitzki went 11-of-15 from the line in Monday’s win over the Clippers, it marked the first time he missed four free throws in a game since Dec. 30, 2008, when he was 6-of-10 vs. Minnesota. … The Eastern Conference semifinals could be ugly. Miami seems assured of finishing no lower than second, while Philadelphia and Indiana could possibly wind up anywhere from third to fifth. The 76ers have not been competitive in two games vs. the Heat, and the Pacers’ two largest halftime deficits – 29 and 23 points – have come in losses to Miami. … Warriors coach Mark Jackson is taking some strategic lumps in his first season on the sidelines. His team is 1-6 in one-possession games. … Pistons big Ben Wallace had an eventful game Tuesday vs. San Antonio. It was his 1,055th career game, surpassing Avery Johnson for the most by an undrafted player. He scored a season-high nine points, which included his seventh career 3-pointer. He also received the intentional foul treatment from Gregg Popovich and had a pair of airballs from the line. Wallace, who came in with 28 points in 399 minutes this season, tried to downplay his offensive explosion. “Three-ball – that ain’t nothing that you all haven’t seen before,” he said. “They hacked me. I made a couple free throws, shot a couple airballs – still ain’t nothing that you all have never seen before.” … The Timberwolves now appear to have two double-double machines: Kevin Love and emerging brute Nikola Pekovic, who has seven double-doubles in 10 games this month and is averaging 18.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in February. After losing to Minnesota, Charlotte coach Paul Silas said, “I thought we did OK against Kevin because he shot a lot of outside shots. “But the other kid, Pep-a-vich, his name is? Whatever, he just killed us down there.” Pekovic is the third center deployed by coach Rick Adelman after Darko Milicic and Brad Miller failed to produce. But if Minnesota wants to crash the playoff party, it has to resolve similar issues at small forward and shooting guard, where youngsters Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Martell Webster and even rookie Derrick Williams are not getting it done. … At 38 years old, Juwan Howard probably has earned the right to say, “No, thanks” when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra asks if he wants to mop up in garbage time. He should have declined the offer Tuesday at Indiana. Inserted for the last six minutes of a blowout win, he missed his only two shots and committed two turnovers and four fouls before getting ejected with 42 seconds left. … Blake Griffin’s problems at the line are becoming an issue. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle intentionally fouled him in a game this week, and among qualifiers, only Dwight Howard’s .501 percentage is worse than Griffin’s .529 mark. Furthermore, Griffin has had just one game this season where he did not miss a free throw – Jan. 17 at Utah, where he did not get to the line. The bet here is that Griffin’s struggles at the stripe cost the Clippers a playoff game. … As usual, there are no shortage of candidates for Most Improved Player. The folks in Orlando believe it’s Ryan Anderson, whose scoring average has jumped more than 6 ppg from last season to 16.8 points. He also is averaging a career-best 7.2 rebounds and is the runaway leader with 91 3-pointers. “People don’t understand that this guy is averaging 16 or 17 points without having a play called for him all season,” Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. … The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas was going to be a victim of budget cuts until Mavs owner Mark Cuban cut a $40,000 check to cover the expense shortfall. “I figured I had lost enough brain cells there, everybody else should get that opportunity, too,” Cuban said. The Mavs host the Spurs on March 17, so he can join the party again if he wants.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Jason Terry. … Happy 36th Birthday, Jahidi White. … It would be nice if Jeremy Lin handled the ball as well as he handled sudden stardom.
Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Wednesday and Sunday. You can follow him on Twitter.