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Houston braces for Linsanity
Question of the Day
“There is still a lot of interest in the Rockets in China, even without Yao,” Ganis said. “This is clearly an effort to get a good player, but also capitalize on the in-roads that the team has already made with Chinese sponsors and the fans there.”
Reaction among fans closer to home was muted, although Lin was the talk of sports radio in Houston all day and exploded on social media. Since the acquisition became official late Tuesday night, the Rockets‘ Twitter page has picked up 3,000 new followers and the Facebook page added 10,000 “likes.”
However, late Wednesday afternoon, the marquee at the Toyota Center mentioned only season-ticket packages for the Rockets, along with an Aerosmith concert and a WWE Smackdown.
Forward Patrick Patterson is eager to work with Lin, and feels like he’s an ideal fit for coach Kevin McHale’s system.
“With the type of athletes that we have, we like to run up and down the court in transition, we like to do pick and rolls,” Patterson said before the Rockets‘ summer league game Wednesday night in Las Vegas. “And that’s what he thrives well in: pick and rolls, getting to the basket, getting lay-ups, creating opportunities for each player on the team on the floor.”
“We expect Jeremy to come in and be our point guard,” Sampson said. “We’re not looking for anything other than that. He’s a high-character kid, plays hard, really good off pick and rolls. I think he’s good in transition. We’re going with a really young team next year and Jeremy, with his work ethic and his leadership; I think he’s going to be what we really need.”
Before the season arrives, general manager Daryl Morey still has work to do.
The next major priority for Houston is finding a big man. Dwight Howard is still available, but that may be long shot. The Rockets expect to sign Bulls center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25 million offer sheet that’s similar to Lin’s deal.
Beyond that, Morey must replenish a roster that’s been gutted over the past two weeks. The Rockets traded Chase Budinger and Samuel Dalembert as they collected draft picks for a package aimed at enticing Orlando to send them Howard, a six-time All-Star.
Houston ended up keeping all three first-round draft picks, selecting Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who all remain unsigned.
The Rockets lost unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic to Phoenix, began their pursuit of Lin and traded Kyle Lowry to Toronto. They withdrew their qualifying offer to guard Courtney Lee, completed a sign-and-trade that sent center Marcus Camby to New York and used the amnesty clause to waive forward Luis Scola.
On Wednesday, the Rockets waived forward Jon Leuer and center Jerome Jordan. Leuer came to Houston in the Dalembert trade with Milwaukee, and Jordan was acquired in the Camby deal.
Houston has only won one playoff series since 1997 and missed the postseason entirely the last three seasons. Whether Lin becomes a key piece to a championship-contending team is anyone’s guess _ he’s only started 25 games in his young career.
By Robert N. Tracci
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