Linsanity has moved to Houston, where Jeremy Lin joins a rebooted Rockets lineup that is nowhere near as dangerous as the one he left in New York. Five of Houston's top six scorers from last season are gone, and four of their replacements are rookies. Donatas Motiejunas, the No. 20 pick in 2011 who played in the Polish League last season, is potentially the most NBA-ready. Motiejunas, 22, is a fluid 7-footer with 15-foot range and a diverse back-to-the-basket game that coach Kevin McHale—something of a post player in his day—should be able to develop.
Lin's most reliable sidekick will be guard Kevin Martin, the Rockets' leading scorer last season. Distractions—Martin was part of the aborted trade for Pau Gasol last December—and a nagging shoulder injury caused Martin's shooting percentage to dip to 41.3% last season, a seven-year low. But a healthy Martin will feature prominently in McHale's pick-and-roll attack.
COACH: Kevin McHale (2nd season with Rockets)
2011--12 RECORD: 34--32 (4th in Southwest)
OFFENSE: 98.1 ppg (9th)
DEFENSE: 97.9 ppg (19th)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 24.5 ppg (12th)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
is better. Lin is not quick. He's not a good ballhandler. He has good size, and when he gets in the lane, he is good at finding the open man and is not a bad finisher. But he didn't show me he was very good at running a team.... The offense is going to be Lin and Kevin Martin firing it up. You have to run Martin off screens. You have to run him off the baseline and get him open. He is a catch-and-shoot player and is good at drawing fouls, but he is just as capable of going 0 for 20 as he is 7 for 8.... Omer Asik has two very good NBA skills: He rebounds, and he guards the goal. But he can't score at all.... For a second-round pick, Chandler Parsons has size and is a good all-around player, a pretty good shooter. But he is not quick. It's going to be tough when they face a good small forward, and there are a lot of them.... No way they sniff the playoffs. You have to blow this team up in six months.
The Rockets are able to deal young talent for the franchise player G.M. Daryl Morey has sought since Yao Ming retired.
Lin proves too turnover-prone, and Houston comes up empty—again—at the trade deadline, finishing last in the West.
Career points scored by Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, two free agents Houston signed to three-year, $25 million contracts. The team's $48 million payroll is still the NBA's lowest, less than half of the Lakers'.
BILL BAPTIST/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (LIN)
GREG NELSON (MARTIN)