Jeremy Lin just finished what was probably his most satisfying season in the NBA. After the debacle that was his year in Los Angeles under the now-fired Lakers head coach Byron Scott, Lin enjoyed solid playing time, strong numbers and — especially — winning in Charlotte. Still, Lin wants to be a starter and his season as a Hornet only adds to his credentials as a player who can start for an NBA contender. Lin signed a two-year deal for just $4.3 million last summer as Hornets owner Michael Jordan‘s most “important” acquisition. The deal included a player option in the second year that makes it almost certain Lin will explore free agency this summer.
Lin certainly appreciates Charlotte — and there is incentive for him to stick with a team that was thisclose to advancing to round 2 of the playoffs. But more than his excellent penetration and offensive contributions, it’s Lin’s defense and turnovers (ironically perhaps) that make it likely he’s played his last game in Charlotte. Entering this season, Lin’s offensive capabilities were already acknowledged. The knock on Lin was that he couldn’t cut it on defense and that he turned the ball over too much. It’s this perception that his single season in Charlotte did the most to change. People knew Lin could score; now they know he can defend. Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said of Lin, “He’s a much, much better defender than people realize.” And Lin’s turnovers were simply not a story this season in Charlotte.