Ten months ago, the Rockets deemed Jeremy Lin unworthy of a roster spot.
Now he’s expected to become the face of the franchise.
Houston plans on making Lin the marquee player as the franchise rebuilds.
No team pressed harder to land Dwight Howard this summer than Houston, which included evoking its amnesty clause to buy out the contract of Luis Scola, but the team wasn’t included in the four team trade for the All-Star center.
Houston immediately responded by heavily pursuing Lin, a restricted free agent. Originally offering a four-year $28 million deal, the contract was restructured, totaling $25 million over three years.
New York had a week to match, but with $14.8 million coming in the third and final year, declined, enabling the player that became a national sensation to return to the Rockets.
Lin became a phenomenon, drawing acclaim outside of the sports realm for overcoming significant odds during his path to stardom.
Undrafted out of Harvard, Lin latched on to the Mavericks Summer League team and garnered attention for his play against John Wall, the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Golden State offered him a contract, but he played sparingly, logging over 20 minutes just twice in 29 appearances as a rookie.
The Warriors cut Lin once the NBA lockout came to an end and he tried to resume his career in Houston, but two days before the season opener, he was cut to open a roster space for veteran center Samuel Dalembert.
In search of a third point guard for its roster, New York signed Lin to a one-year non-guaranteed contract worth $850,000.
The player that was supposed to just fill the final roster spot saved the season.
In search of a spark, Lin was inserted into the lineup as a last resort to snap a nine game losing streak.
Given an opportunity, the 24-year-old claimed the starting position became the biggest star in the world’s most famous arena.
In his first career start, Lin outplayed All-Star point guard Deron Williams and led the Knicks to victory.
Six days later, he torched the Lakers for 38 points and seven assists. Later in the week, Lin sank the game winning 3-pointer, part of a 27 point, 11 assist effort in Toronto.
During his first six career starts, he posted at least 20 points and seven assists in each.
He quickly developed a knack for setting up teammates for easy baskets, averaging 3.5 assists at the rim, the eighth highest average in the league.
In 25 games as a stater, Lin averaged 18.2 points, 7.7 assits and two steals per game.
As free agency began, the Knicks were determined to match any offer presented to Lin, but allowed him to flee to Houston when the amount of millions offered equaled the number of games he started.
The risks for Houston are evident, as he averaged 4.7 turnovers per game as a starter. Against Miami, with the defense clearly keying in on him, Lin scored just eight points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field and he committed eight turnovers.
A knee injury in late March forced him to miss the playoffs and he drew cricitcsm for refusing to play after declaring he was 85 percent healed as the Knicks fell to the Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Rockets were the only team with three first round picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, and the team selected three players that can each play small forward and other than shooting guard Kevin Martin, the other four projected starters have combined for 91 career starts.
Four players are in the final year of their contract and the Rockets possess a team option for six others, so the roster can dramatically change over the next two seasons.
”I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet,” Lin said to Yahoo! Sports. ”I think we’re a young team and we’re all going to buy in. The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person that’s going to carry us to where we want to go, it’s going to be everybody. I think it’s so early on, I’m just trying to get to know the guys.”
For the Rockets to succeed, Lin has to prove that his breakout performance last season in New York is ready for a sequel.