It’s perhaps too early to know if Jeremy Lin will ever play again in the 2014-15 season.
But the Lakers (20-58) will at least pencil Lin out for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-62) at Staples Center because of continued soreness in his left knee. His MRI later showed an abnormality in his meniscus, something that stayed consistent after Lin had surgery on his knee in 2012. The Lakers do not consider the injury serious and will reevaluate him in hopes he can play in any of the final three regular-season games.
Lin also missed Wednesday’s loss in Denver after pain unexpectedly emerged in his left knee. Lakers guard Jabari Brown still start in Lin’s place at shooting guard for the second consecutive game alongside rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson, both of whom played together last season at University of Missouri.
“He complained it was a little sore the other night. We decided to rest him for that game,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Lin . “Hopefully we have the results today before tonight’s game.”
Lin averaged 11.2 points on 42.4 percent shooting and 4.6 assists, which nearly mirrors his career average through his five-year NBA career. But Lin’s lone season with the Lakers has featured plenty of frustrating moments. Lin lost his starting point guard spot after 19 games, both because of the Lakers’ persistent losing and Scott’s preference for Ronnie Price’s defense.
“From a point guard standpoint, I’m still old school,” Scott said. “It’s a new age point guard where they score first than pass first. But the next step for Jeremy as far of running the team, which I think he did a pretty good job in the second half of the season, is just that. He’s thinking with a point guard mentality in getting guys involved first. He ahs the ability in pick and rolls where he can get to the basket and create his own shot. But so many of our point guards in this league, their first thought is to score. I still look at it as a position of being a quarterback, running the team and getting the people the ball where they need it and still being able to deliver the ball when he has to.”
Lin also admittedly felt uncomfortable sharing ball-handling duties and running Scott’s offense that put less emphasis on pick-and-rolls. That marks a vast departure from what Lin experienced with the New York Knicks (2011-12) and Houston (2012-14). Meanwhile, Scott has often lamented Lin’s inconsistency and decision making.
“We all think he’s been in the league for 10 years, but he hasn’t,” Scott said. “He hasn’t played a ton of basketball in the NBA. It’s still a learning process for him as well. Being in the system he’s in, this system is a whole lot different than the system he was in New York where it was pretty much dominated by one guy as far as the ball. I want the ball to move so everybody gets a chance to play. It’s a matter of understanding the system and being more comfortable with it. I still think he can do that.”
The Lakers acquired Lin and a first-round pick last summer from the Houston Rockets amid their quest to clear salary at an eventually unsuccessful pursuit at both Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. Lin, who will likely take less than his $14.9 million salary, has declined to talk publicly about his pending free agency. But it appears likely the Lakers and Lin will mutually go their separate ways.
The Lakers have put higher priority on both developing rookie point guard Jordan Clarkson and remain open toward addressing their point-guard needs through either the NBA draft or free agency. Lin would likely prefer on a team that features a more traditional offense that would maximize pick-and-roll plays, floor spacing and outside shooting. But Scott declined to outline Lin’s future.
“We’re not going to talk about long term,” Scott said. “We have four games left and will get ready for May 19th with the lottery and bring guys in and get ready for the June draft. We’re not going to talk about anybody long term. It’s let’s finish the season out and evaluate our talent and the guys we have and go from there.”