The Toronto Raptors sacrificed some depth to acquire Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline, but the roster is already starting to take shape.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Jeremy Lin is in the process of finalizing a buyout with the Atlanta Hawks, paving the way for him to sign with the Raptors once he clears waivers. With Lin, Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller on board, Toronto will be back up to 14 players on its roster.
Jeremy Lin is finalizing a buyout with Atlanta, clearing the way for him to sign with Toronto, agents Jim Tanner and Roger Montgomery tell ESPN.- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 11, 2019
While it's been an up and down season for Lin - he came out of the gates slow after missing all but one game of last season with a torn patella tendon in his right knee - he fills a huge need for a Raptors team hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs.
What Jeremy Lin brings to the Raptors
Lin will take over Delon Wright's role as a combo guard off the bench and make up for the loss of Fred VanVleet, who is expected to miss at least three weeks with a left thumb injury sustained over the weekend. While Lin is more of a one than a two, he's perfectly capable of playing both guard positions, as he showed in his one season with the Charlotte Hornets when he was primarily a shooting guard next to Kemba Walker.
That'll give Nick Nurse the option of playing Lin alongside Kyle Lowry at the end of games if he wants another playmaker on the court.
Regardless of how end-of-game situations shake out based on matchups, Lin will at the very least provide instant offence off the bench. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.5 assists in only 19.7 minutes per game with the Hawks this season. That works out to be 19.6 points and 6.5 assists per 36 minutes, numbers more in line with what he's averaged in his NBA career.
Lin has always done the bulk of his scoring in pick-and-rolls, where he's a threat to pull-up from midrange and finish around the basket with floaters and crafty layups. It remains to be seen which of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol is going to start at centre for the Raptors moving forward, but pairing either one of them with Lin will give the bench a go-to option they've been sorely missing this season.
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Lin will be able to run the same pick-and-pops with Ibaka that Lowry has and Gasol is a similar threat in those situations, albeit one whose range stretches out to the 3-point line.
Lin should benefit from playing with them, too. Ibaka and Gasol are both far superior shooters than what the Hawks currently have at centre, so he should have more room to work with when operating in pick-and-rolls.
Aiding his fit next to Gasol specifically is that Lin is both a willing and effective cutter. VanVleet has the first part down, but not having the same size as Lin makes it more difficult for him to finish over opponents in the paint.
The reason Lin can slide over to the two is because he's been a decent outside shooter for most of his career. He has struggled from the 3-point line this season, but Lin made 39.0 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts in 2016-17 and hovered around 35.0 percent in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
At the very least, Lin is a willing 3-point shooter. He's taking 6.1 triples per 36 minutes this season, a sizeable increase from what Wright averaged (3.6) prior to the trade.
With how inconsistent the Raptors have been from the 3-point line - they're shooting 36.8 percent in wins and 29.3 percent in losses - it'll only help having another player on the court who can knock down an open shot and attack closeouts.
To go along with the scoring, Lin is a solid passer and a smart defender. He's not as versatile of a defender as Wright, but a good enough one to hold his own and be on the floor in important moments of the game.
The icing on the cake is Lin has a history of playing well against the Raptors. Now that he's in Toronto for the remainder of the season, they don't have to worry about seeing him in the playoffs on a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who will likely be on the market for a backup point guard between now and the start of the postseason.
Not only did the Raptors sign a key piece to help fill out the rotation, they kept him away from other point guard needy contenders.
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