Lost in all the trade news, there’s this: Jeremy Lin is back!
So what does this mean for the Brooklyn Nets point guard rotation going forward? Not to mention the backcourt in general! A lot. After missing 44 games, Lin will be hopefully be the Nets starter for the rest of the way. There may be minutes restrictions, but he’s the lead guy.
Will he start Friday in Denver?
"Honestly, I haven't decided yet – we'll see how he is after today's practice,” Kenny Atkinson said of Lin, who has started nine games this season. “We'll do a little more scrimmaging tomorrow and keep him engaged. My gut to be honest is I'd like to start him. I'm excited to see Jeremy back to get some momentum going in to next season with our line ups.”
That means Brook-Lin. Atkinson says he is looking forward to see the combination, assuming Lopez sticks around.
"It's part of the fresh start. Seeing him with Brook, if we can do that, that would be ideal,” continued the first year head coach. “Above that is Jeremy's health and how that works in with his minutes. My guess is that we can work it where he can get in with our first unit with Brook and we need to feel that out obviously – I do think it'll be a gradual build up."
The high character Harvard grad that is Lin remains neutral, saying he can produce and help lead the team either way. After all, he does have a history of starting and as the sixth man, which he did prior to arriving in Brooklyn in his Charlotte Hornet stint.
"I think he knows I'm good with whatever,” Lin said at Wednesday night’s practice. “When I came back from my first injury, minutes restriction wise he brought me off the bench. I haven't had time to meet with (the performance team) yet. I know they've met, but they haven't told me what their final decisions are or what it looks like going forward other than I'm supposed to be playing."
The other question is what happens to the young PG’s who have been filling in ... and the player Nets fans see as the steal of the draft.
After jumping back and forth between Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets had settled on Dinwiddie as a starter of late. He made quite an impression in his last two appearances before All Star break.
In a loss to Memphis on the 13th, Dinwiddie finished with 17 points in 28 minutes on 5-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 from three and 3-of-3 from the foul line. The third year combo guard followed up with his greatest act to date, a season-high 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting in a four-point loss to Milwaukee.
In fact, over 33 games with the Black and White (16 starts), Dinwiddie is shooting 44% from the floor and 41.7% from deep while averaging about seven points and three assists in 21 minutes of play.
Whitehead, who’s been developing at the one, has posted similar averages through 48 games with the team as a rookie, except for his shooting percentages, which have been substantially lower if improving (38.7 and 31.5 respectively).
Whitehead also entered vacation on a high note, averaging 7.6 points and 2.6 assists on 41.7% shooting (33.3% from three) in 19.3 minutes of back-up point guard minutes over the last five games before the break.
With Dinwiddie being the hot hand at the moment, the Nets may very well open with him at the starting PG spot Friday and Lin coming off the bench relatively early. Atkinson would then have to find minutes for Whitehead to continue his growth. Atkinson says two point guard lineups are a possibility u as a way to flex around the minutes between the three PG’s.
"You could see two point guard line ups…Spencer's 6'6", Isaiah played some two in college, Jeremy guarded twos in Charlotte and he's defended Dwyane Wade in the playoffs,” Atkinson said. “Dinwiddie’s strong enough, athletic enough — we haven't experimented enough with that. Spencer's been doing a pretty good job, he's played better lately and to push him to the side I don't think is appropriate.”
Caris LeVert, who can also run the point, factors into this equation as well as Atkinson is looking to add on some more minutes for the 6’7” first round draft pick.
These are minutes that are well deserved, according to Atkinson, and many of you.
“We have to find the right niche for him,” Atkinson said of the Michigan alum. “The correct amount of minutes, the correct lineup - we want to give him more responsibilities but we don't want to get passed that line where we're overwhelming him. That's up to us to figure out. My gut is he'll see more minutes, that's where it's trending. We want to put him in his best position to succeed in our best lineup."
Circling back to Lin, his focus is on winning games, which has been hard to come by in this taxing campaign, pointing to the desire of establishing ‘a winning culture,’ over time.
"At this point I could really care less about a lot of other stuff, this team needs a win,” Lin said frankly. “We need to feel what it means to win to build a winning culture. We've only won nine games, that hurts everybody in the organization.”
Nobody could talk about the effect of the Nets trade with Washington. It wasn’t official until later in the evening. As for Thursday, the Nets won’t fly out of New York until 4 p.m., that’s an hour after the deadline.