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Jeremy Lin could be a Deron Williams-level backup plan for the Mavericks

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Although Dallas' top target is Mike Conley, and Williams has interest in return, perhaps a third point in Lin could be the one who ends up starting in Dallas next season.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After the Mavericks secured verbal commitments from DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews last summer, point guard was the next order of business. I was convinced that hole would be filled by Jeremy Lin, and that the Mavs starting five would be Lin, Matthews, Jordan, Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki.

It made sense. Lin is a bigger point guard and decent 3-point shooter that might have added some floor spacing in Rick Carlisle's offense. He played with Dwight Howard in Houston, another defensive-minded and rim-rolling center like Jordan. And, he and Parsons are buddies. It seemed perfect!

But we know what happened. Jordan backed out, and Lin ended up signing with the Hornets. The Mavericks, meanwhile, signed Deron Williams after he reached a buyout with the Nets. Williams was far from elite, but he was easily Dallas' best starting point since Jason Kidd. He shed his reputation of not being tough in Brooklyn after playing through what seemed like a nasty sports hernia injury down the stretch.

All in all, Williams was fine. But he's opting out of his contract, and, if Williams doesn't re-sign in Dallas, then Lin could be in play.

Fit with the Mavs

I'm in the 'Dallas should quickly re-sign D-Will' camp. The only better alternative at point guard is Mike Conley, and we understand that's not the most realistic option. But, if for some reason the Mavs and D-Will don't come to an agreement, Lin could make sense in Dallas.

His numbers from last season in Charlotte aren't all that flashy. He averaged 11.7 points 3.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds while shooting 41.2 percent from the field, which is nearly identical to Williams' shooting percentage. He also was primarily a bench player for the Hornets, appearing in 78 contests while only starting 13.

The interesting thing? Lin was very good in those 13 starts, even better than off the bench. In those 13 games, Lin averaged 34.4 minutes, 17.5 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds, all while shooting 46.1 percent overall and 46.0 percent from three. That's a smaller sample size than his 65 games off the bench, but it does prove that Lin is more than capable of being a starting guard in the league.

His defense is far from great, but he's very capable of running things from an offensive standpoint. His sometimes questionable decision making would probably drive Carlisle mad, but his ability to shoot and run the pick-and-roll makes him a decent fit in Dallas.

Likelihood

Again, this only happens if Williams decides to bolt or if the Mavs decide to go in a different direction. Even though Lin was primarily a bench player last year, it's highly unlikely he comes to Dallas in the same roll with Devin Harris and J.J. Barea already in the fold. Even if Raymond Felton leaves, the Mavs are better off trying to find a a bigger guard or wing to fill that spot.

But, if D-Will leaves, I bet the Mavs pop up in the Lin race. One issue is that Lin isn't a longterm solution at point guard, and would just be another stop-gap at the position. I liked the idea of Lin in Dallas last season, and think it could work this summer under the right circumstances. Maybe it's a wash between Williams and Lin at this point, and perhaps the Mavs decide to keep Williams to finally have some sort of consistency at the position.

However, if the Mavs make a run at Conley that fails and Williams takes off, they'll have a hole to fill. In that case, all eyes on Lin.