Jeremy Lin, the point guard whose 2012 heroics for the New York Knicks sparked a brief “Linsanity” phenomenon, was traded by Houston to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Lin, the first player of Taiwanese descent in the NBA, had his big break when he signed for the Golden State Warriors in 2010.
He was then traded to the Knicks and followed the star turn in New York that propelled him to stardom by signing a three-year deal with the Houston Rockets for US$25 million in 2012.
The Rockets also sent the Lakers a future first-round pick in the NBA Draft and a second-round selection next year in exchange for the rights to Ukraine’s Sergei Lishchuk, a move that will free salary space for Houston to help complete a free agent deal for Trevor Ariza.
Lin, 25, averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds a game for the Rockets last season. In 217 games over four NBA campaigns, Lin has averaged 11.9 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds a game.
“This trade allows us to acquire a solid player who will make us a better team, as well as draft picks to improve our team in the future, while at the same time allowing us to maintain financial flexibility,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.
“In addition to what he will bring us on the court, we think Jeremy will be warmly embraced by our fans and our community,” he added.
The Asian-American standout joins Kobe Bryant in a talented Laker back-court hoping to revive the form he showed in February of 2012 when he came off the bench for an injury-plagued New York squad and sparked a winning streak.
The Harvard graduate became the first player in NBA history to score at least 20 points and contribute seven assists in his first five starts, twice making the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, while being named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people with his rags-to-riches tale.
Lishchuk, a 32-year-old forward, played for Valencia in the Spanish basketball league last season.
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony made his return to the New York Knicks official, while the Miami Heat made a move to reload following the exit of LeBron James by agreeing to a deal with forward Luol Deng.
Paul Pierce also agreed a move to Washington to join the Wizards as free-agent activity heated up.
High-scoring Anthony gives team president Phil Jackson the foundation piece he desired in his quest to bring an NBA title to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 1973.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Under NBA salary-cap rules, Anthony could sign a five-year contract for as much as US$129 million, but he may elect to take less in order to give the Knicks more budget room.
“We are now happy to know that we have the cornerstone of what we envision as a ‘team of excellence,’” Jackson said in a statement.
Anthony, who averaged 27.4 points last season for the Knicks was the biggest free agent on the market following last Friday’s decision by James to return to his roots and sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I am a New York Knick at heart,” Anthony said.
Free-agent Deng of Britain, who played most of his NBA career with the Chicago Bulls and part of last season with the Cavaliers, will try to help fill the massive void left by the departure of James.
Deng agreed to a US$20 million, two-year deal with the Heat, according to reports.