According to one report, the Philadelphia 76ers have inquired about Jeremy Lin’s availability.
The Philadelphia 76ers are fourth in the Eastern Conference, sitting just 3.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors. With Jimmy Butler on board, it’s clear the Sixers can compete. Elton Brand needs to address the bench first, though.
While Landry Shamet continues to perform admirably in his rookie season, the Sixers lack depth. The front office needs to maintain long-term perspective, but the objective with Jimmy Butler is clear; it’s time to win now. Adding to the bench is the only way to accomplish that.
One potential target is Jeremy Lin, who’s currently stashed behind Trae Young in the Atlanta Hawks’ rotation. The Hawks are rebuilding, so their veteran talent will naturally come up in trade discussions. According to Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, the Sixers have inquired about Lin’s availability.
Lin isn’t the same player that lit up social media in New York a few years ago, but he’s still a productive backup point guard who addresses the Sixers’ needs. While not an elite defender, his 6-foot-3 frame makes him a natural upgrade over the smaller T.J. McConnell.
In addition to the defensive boost in the backcourt, Lin can fit in several different lineups. He’s had success playing with other point guards in recent seasons — D’Angelo Russell with the Nets, Trae Young with the Hawks — so pairing him with Ben Simmons shouldn’t pose an issue.
Shooting 36.1 percent on 2.6 three-point attempts per game, Lin is hovering around the league average and could feasibly see more open looks in Philadelphia’s star-driven offense. He’s only getting 19.3 minutes per game with Atlanta, averaging 11.0 points. He could expect similar, if not more playing time with the Sixers.
The main challenge in trading for Lin is salary. With $12.5 million on the books this season, the Sixers would need to send back considerable salary in return. The most obvious path toward completing such a trade is Wilson Chandler, but the Sixers shouldn’t give up his defensive versatility.
One potential solution would be shipping Markelle Fultz to Atlanta, but the Sixers don’t seem inclined to give up on the former No. 1 pick yet. Fultz’s upside outweighs Lin’s half-season value, so the Sixers would be wise to avoid such a deal unless the Hawks send other valuable assets in return.
With J.J. Redick (who the Sixers should absolutely keep) and Amir Johnson having veto powers, the list of potential salary filler gets even shorter for Philadelphia. Mike Muscala can’t get traded back to Atlanta. Unless it’s Chandler and draft capital (either a late first-round pick or multiple second-round picks), the Sixers will struggle to negotiate the details of a Lin trade.
Another potential option, of course, is to wait for the buyout market. If the Hawks can’t get Lin’s salary off the books, he’s probably hitting free agency. Given the reported interest, however, the Sixers shouldn’t count on Lin getting to that point.