The Lakers have acquired point guard Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets, along with the Rockets’ first-round draft pick next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Lakers will send cash and rights to undisclosed overseas player to the Rockets.
The Rockets were desperate to unload Lin to give them room to make a maximum-contract offer to free-agent forward Chris Bosh.
The Lakers have not officially been told they are out of the running for free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony and still have enough money to offer him close to a maximum contract if they renounce Ryan Kelly, Kent Bazemore and Kendall Marshall.
But then Pau Gasol would have to take a huge pay cut to $2.7 million to stay with the Lakers. He made $19.3 million last season. The $2.7 million is the so-called salary-cap “room exception.”
Lin, who turns 26 next month, has one more year and $14.9 million remaining on his contract, though the cap number is actually $8.4 million because of a quirk in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
The Lakers can free up another $6 million by waiving Steve Nash and spreading his $9.7-million contract over the next three years. It was unclear if they would do that if they didn’t get Anthony.
The Rockets’ first-round pick is protected to some degree but the Lakers believe it will be theirs to use next June because the Rockets’ record will be good enough to fall out of pick protection.
Lin fits the Lakers’ bill for a player with a short deal, allowing them to keep financial flexibility heading into next summer, when Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge could become free agents. The year after that, Kevin Durant could become a free agent.
Lin was uncomfortably thrust into the spotlight last week while the Rockets were courting Anthony.
Houston posted large electronic images of Anthony wearing a No. 7 Rockets jersey outside its arena when he visited. One problem: The number belonged to Lin.
Lin responded on Twitter by referring to a Bible verse: “Luke 6:29 - If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”
Yahoo Sports first reported that the Rockets and Lakers were finalizing the deal for Lin.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.