Golden State had Jeremy Lin for a full season last year, but decided he just wasn’t going to work for them. Monta Ellis handles the ball a lot, Stephen Curry is the starter at the point and Golden State went another direction with his backup.
The Rockets had Lin earlier this season, but they also have Kyrie Irving (who should have been an All-Star) as the starter and Goran Dragic as the backup. They didn’t have room for him.
Think those teams are watching Lin now and feeling some regret? You bet they are, as they told Howard Beck of the New York Times.
“We always felt there would be some chance he’d be a backup point guard,” said Larry Riley, the Warriors general manager. “I have egg on my face in telling you that I did not think he was going to become a starting point guard with a good team. He’s doing that right now.”
Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, was even more blunt, declaring on Twitter: “We should have kept @JLin7. Did not know he was this good. Anyone who says they knew misleading U.”
Unless you are an All-Star level player (and sometimes even then), fit and system matter a lot in the NBA. Elite teams usually have a couple transcendent stars that would succeed regardless of the system, but the other 10 players are guys who fit well in the system the team runs. You pick players that way.
Lin is in a system that really fits him right now — the pick-and-rolls, the freedom to make decisions, the need for a point guard who can push the pace then get into the lane all play to Lin’s skill set. To use an easy example, Lin would wilt in the triangle offense (as would a lot of pure point guards, remember Gary Payton on the Lakers?). But Lin and D’Antoni are a match.
And the Knicks are a lot better off for it. And the fact the Warriors and Rockets didn’t realize what they had.