Brooklyn Nets: Jeremy Lin’s uncertain future

Apr 2, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) brings the ball up court in the first quarter against Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) brings the ball up court in the first quarter against Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeremy Lin has a player option for the 2018-19 season. After spending most of last season on the shelf with injuries, Lin could be due for a bounce-back season. If he excels but the Brooklyn Nets don’t win many games, might the point guard look elsewhere?

Nothing lasts forever. Fans have learned that the heard way the past few off-seasons. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan all called it a career last year. Paul Pierce will be hanging up his sneakers this year. Manu Ginobli may join him.

Nets fans shouldn’t have similar worries about their favorite players retiring. The team is mostly on the right side of 26-years-old. Most Nets are only at the beginning of their NBA journeys.

Fans should hope Jeremy Lin is on the beginning of his own journey with Brooklyn. The star point guard signed a three year deal for $36 million last July. His first season was largely spent in street clothes watching the team lose.

Lin has said all of the right things about being here long term. He has talked about players wanting to join him on the Nets because of the team’s culture. Anything can happen in free agency though.

Who would have thought we’d be seeing Dwyane Wade in a Chicago Bulls uniform? Most pundits thought Wade was going to spend his entire career with the Miami Heat. Wade was a shoe-in to be a Heat-lifer.

Thing happen in free agency though.

Lin will likely opt out of his contract next year. His signing was seen as a bargain after a bounce-back season with the Charlotte Hornets for the 2015-16 season. The salary cap boom has made Lin’s annual $12 million cap hit the kind of figure that role players make.

Within Kenny Atkinson’s offense Lin is anything but a role player. He is the leader of the Nets’ offensive attack.

The Nets’ offense looked flat during much of the season. Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie are talented players in their own right. Neither player, though, would start for any NBA franchise that is actively trying to win games.

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Lin is necessary for the team to be competitive. The Nets’ 11-13 record in March and April is a testament to that. His return breathed life into what was a lifeless offense.

The Nets’ record over a full season with Lin should improve. With improvement from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who needs to fix his jumper) and Caris LeVert (who needs to stay on the court and avoid injuries) Brooklyn may be a 30-35 win team assuming Sean Marks is able to properly compliment Lin and Brook Lopez with another bona fide scorer.

Is that enough for Lin to stay?

Lin is 28-years-old. He can remain patient with the Nets for a few years if winning in Brooklyn means more to him than just winning in general. There is no reason to believe there is any trouble in paradise.

If Lin is able to have a career year being Atkinson’s high-usage floor general though, things may change in a hurry.

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Marks has been frugal as a general manager thus far. He hasn’t handed out a salary larger than Lin’s $12 million per year figure. Lopez is a free agent though and could be eligible for a massive contract in the $100 million-range. Lin will only have early-bird rights after spending two seasons in Brooklyn so the team would need to use cap space to give him anything close to the max.

Will the team bite the bullet? We don’t know. This upcoming season should provide us with some insight but we are still a year away from Lin’s potential free agency.

All we could do is expect anything. All good things come to an end. Hopefully Jeremy Lin’s tenure in Brooklyn isn’t one of them next year.