Houston Rockets, 2012-14
Role: Starting Point Guard (2012-13), Sixth Man (2013-14)
After New York declined to match the Houston Rockets’ offer of a three-year, $25 million deal, Lin made his way to Houston.
It was only natural for there to be high expectations for Lin after breaking out as “Linsanity,” but this resulted in a large amount of negative press. Huge numbers like 28 points and 11 assists per game were expected of Lin, but Lin never played a full 82-game season, as pointed out by head coach Kevin McHale.
Before the 2012-13 season began, the Rockets also acquired James Harden. As a result, Lin’s image as the face of the team was short-lived. Despite having Lin as the starting point guard, McHale still chose to run the offense through Harden, who mirrored Lin as a ball-dominant and pick-and-roll player.
With Harden controlling the ball, Lin was handling the ball much less than he did in New York. He struggled through his first 12 games, shooting at just 33.3 percent from the field and 22.9 percent from three-point land.
Lin went on a five-game stretch where he failed to connect on a single three-pointer. He broke this drought in his first game against the Knicks since leaving as a free agent. Lin contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, as the 5-7 Rockets surprised the best-record 8-2 Knicks in a 131-103 victory.
Despite losing playing time to Toney Douglas as the season progressed, Lin still had some stellar performances. However, it was clear that both Harden and Lin were more productive when the other player was not on the court. On December 10, 2012, with Harden sidelined because of an injury, Lin scored 38 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field in a 134-126 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Lin finished the season averaging 13.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals. These numbers slightly resemble his numbers with the Knicks.
In his second season with the Rockets, Lin lost the starting role to Patrick Beverley. Instead, he became the Rockets’ primary ball-handler off the bench. His most notable performance came on February 1, 2014, when he recorded a triple-double. In a 106-92 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lin posted 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He became the first Rocket to record a triple-double off the bench since Cedric Maxwell.
Lin finished the season with 33 starts, which resulted from Beverley being out with a fractured right hand. His numbers were reasonable for a sixth man, as he averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists, and one steal in his last year in Houston.