Linsanity has been sweeping Philadelphia, but not exactly in the same way it swept through New York in 2012.
The 76ers have been reported by ESPN's Marc Stein to be interested in trading for Houston guard Jeremy Lin, as part of Houston's effort to create enough cap space to sign a top-tier free agent, heavily rumored to be Miami forward Chris Bosh. Grantland's Zach Lowe went so far as to call it "inevitable."
So, that leads to the next question, and the fundamental question that Sam Hinkie asks every time he picks up the phone from a team looking to dump salary? What's in it for Sam Hinkie?
Unlike some teams that are looking to dump salary, the Rockets have a plethora of assets that would be of interest to Sam Hinkie to help sweeten the pot to take Lin and his $15 million salary off their books. What does Houston have?
Hinkie learned from the best when it comes to stockpiling draft picks. Houston is set up quite well, in possession of all of their future draft picks, with a trio of 2015 2nd round picks owed to them from the Clippers, Knicks, and the less favorable of Minnesota and Denver's seconds.
More importantly, as of July 10th, they'll own the Pelicans first round pick, with protections that are still unknown. (Reporting has been all over the map on it.) The bottom line is that it's likely to fall between 10 and 20 next year, making it a very intriguing asset in a Lin trade, and probably the first thing Hinkie would ask for in a potential Lin trade. Obviously, they could trade their own first too, but it's hard to imagine a team with James Harden, Dwight Howard, and whatever free agent the Rockets sign would pick any better than they did this year, where they picked at #25. Hey, who did they pick at #25 again?
Ah, that's right. For an analysis of Capela as a prospect, check out Derek Bodner's Pimp Your Prospect on him from last month, because Derek's smarter than me, and has watched Capela play substantially more than I have.
From a pure value standpoint though, Capela is a very interesting asset for the Sixers. Capela seems willing to come play in the United States this season, but there's definitely a good possibility he could be stashed overseas for another year, delaying the start of his rookie deal, and giving the Sixers yet another asset to play with at no financial cost to move around.
This one's a little more of a toss-up, because by all accounts, the Rockets really like Jones and have shown no inclination to move him. Desperate times call for desperate measures though, and if the Sixers insisted on the 22 year old forward, they may be able to acquire him as the key piece to a trade. Jones has two years remaining on his rookie deal and averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in a strong 2013-14 season for Houston.
Hinkie's going to need one of the above pieces to get the deal done, whether it's a first round pick, Capela, or Jones. However, Houston also has some interesting spare parts that may sweeten a deal. These include roster players like fourth year forward Donatas Motiejunas, who has asked Houston for a trade to a place where he can play more (and also carries the added benefit of helping Houston move some more money), and second year point guard Isaiah Canaan.
There's also a host of 2nd round picks the Rockets have the rights to, including this year's haul (Arizona guard Nick Johnson and Italian forward Alessandro Gentile), as well as players they have the rights to stashed overseas, including a very intriguing prospect in Greek forward Kostas Papanikolau, who has two years remaining on his contract with FC Barcelona of the Spanish League.
Let's not forget about Jeremy Lin in this deal. At only 25 years old, Lin is hardly washed up, and though he's overpaid by most standards, he's still a capable NBA rotation player that can score. It's not hard to imagine a situation where a contender is looking for a bench scorer at the deadline and the Sixers can turn around and trade Lin, and the more manageable $5 million remaining on his deal, to a contender for another 2nd round pick to add to the Hinkie war chest. Is it a certainty? Of course not, but it's not an impossibility.
Houston has plenty of assets to play with, and Sam Hinkie is likely rifling through them like he's shopping out of a SkyMall catalog. I tend to agree with Zach Lowe that it is in fact an inevitability this deal happens (as long as Lebron doesn't screw it up and go back to Miami), and I think the return will be satisfactory for both the Sixers and their fanbase. It's Lin-evitable, really.