A year ago, Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, was coming into his own. As a first-year player for the Rockets, Asik started all 82 games and responded well playing just over 30 minutes per contest and averaging a double double with 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. At only 26, e appeared to be on his way to a long and productive career as a starting center in the NBA.
Enter Dwight Howard.
The Rockets signed the superstar, drawing him away from the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason. Asik appeared to be caught off guard and worse, was vocal about his displeasure. Asik stuck around and has even been paired with Howard in the frontcourt this year with fairly good results. His numbers are (predictably) down and he’s only seeing about 20 minutes of the action per game. Asik is still frustrated, too, and even recently took a leave of absence from the team. He’s since returned but it’s clear that the center wants to be dealt.
It’s early enough in the season that trade chatter is, at this point, only chatter. The subject of an Asik deal is out there and ESPN’s Marc Stein mentioned the New Orleans Pelicans as a potential suitor. For what it’s worth, Stein notes that a New Orleans deal for Asik may be difficult since a package would likely revolve around Ryan Anderson, but it’s still a deal that could happen if a third team got involved and the Pelicans could somehow keep Anderson.
At that cost (Anderson), Asik may be too rich for the Pelicans’ blood. Anderson has averaged just over 16 points a game over the past two seasons and, unlike Asik, adds another dimension to his game with a three-point shot. He’s a capable rebounder and is two years younger as well. New Orleans may ask for another player to help even out the deal—especially since they know that Houston is interested in dealing and will be desperate to make a move.
One thing that will help a trade along is that the Rockets don’t seem concerned about securing a player at a certain position in exchange for him, per Stein. That really will open things up for Houston and make a deal even easier. With a backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden, the Rockets are pretty set back there. However, adding a third guard to the mix wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and with the 6-foot-5 Harden there, going to a three-guard lineup and effectively moving Harden to small forward could work out.
The priority, of course, would be to improve the frontcourt. With the Rockets’ willingness to settle for a guard, though, a deal for Asik is even easier to make.
Asik’s displeasure at his current situation will almost certainly force a move before the trade deadline. Houston is a team trying to win a championship and they’ll stand a better chance of doing that with a cohesive team. A divisive presence in the locker room is only going to make things more difficult and for that reason, it’s virtually a given that he’ll be dealt.