Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
The James Harden trade should help take pressure off Jeremy Lin in the Houston Rockets' backcourt. So can Harden help limit the turnover Linsanity?
Jeremy Lin needed this trade. Between the way he struggled in the preseason and the overall uncertainty that comes with Linsanity, it was going to be tough for a fairly turnover-prone point guard to navigate through an offense with limited options to dish the rock to.
Actually, with the initial thought that Kevin Martin would be aloof and ultimately traded, for some, Lin was considered to possibly become the Rockets' primary option on offense at some point in the season. These aren't fair expectations, necessarily, but the contract and the hype call for such madness.
Lin was supposed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders this season, despite all logic telling us that there was no reason to expect much from him or this team, and whatever success would be valuable. It would be up to Lin to both score and create opportunities for... well, whoever's opportunistic.
Like the Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon wrote on Saturday night, "there isn't much difference between the starters and the reserves, the actors and the stand-ins."
With Harden in the picture, the pressure has really been shifted to Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey. He's a winner in this in my opinion, because he's understood from the beginning of this rebuilding process that no one on this team was worth keeping for a chance at a cornerstone, franchise-like player.
Still, this is Morey's project. There are already legitimate questions about both Harden and Lin - whether Harden's disappearance in the NBA Finals was indicative of who he was as a big time player, and whether we know enough about Lin to really believe he's everything we've said he is.
So there's no reason for either of those guys to really feel pressure, or at least not as much as it would be if their projected success was closer to unanimous. Do they want to perform? Sure. But they still get the money they were looking for either way, and there's always a way to stay in the league after you make a boat-load of cash and never pan out.
You think Rashard Lewis (Houston's very own) is trippin' about making $15 million this year? Hell no, son.
Jeremy Lin needed this trade for more than filtering noise and lofty expectations. There's this simple turnover problem Lin has that Harden could help remedy.
Even when Lin was torching the Lakers and Mavericks at the height of the phenomenon, there was a flagrant turnover issue that it took a while to become part of the conversation because of how incredible the larger story was.
But after the breakout Nets game, Lin put up 28 points and eight turnovers against the Jazz. That started a span in which Lin would have seven out of eight games with six or more turnovers. He finished the month of February averaging five turnovers a game, keeping in mind he didn't play the first game of the month and just seven minutes in the second.
Lin averaged 3.8 turnovers in March, though he missed the last four games after the injury. Check out the preseason stats with the Rockets and you'll see Lin averaged 2.5 turnovers a game. So it's already getting better, right?
Last year's stats could be chalked up to Mike D'Antoni's offense, but it's clear that Lin could use some relief in handling the ball . Harden's the right guy to do it. Remember that once Eric Maynor got hurt for the Thunder, Harden was pretty much the backup point guard of the team.
More noteworthy; Harden had six turnovers or more in just one game all season (a regular season matchup against eventual champion Miami Heat). This trade came just when I was about to give Kevin Martin props for seeming so engaged this early in the season, like he actually wanted to be a part of this team that really isn't going anywhere.
This is a trade Rockets fans can be happy with, but right now it's about appreciating the simple things. It doesn't make Houston a contender right away, or even the foreseeable future without another move close to its magnitude.
And if there's nothing else to get excited about when it comes to Harden to Houston, at least dude can dribble.