Due to cap considerations, July 10 will mark the official day the Houston Rockets deal Omer Asik to the center-deficient New Orleans Pelicans. For now, however, only unnamed sources can confirm that NOLA will be Asik’s new home via a deal that includes a first-round pick and cash. The move is getting some attention because it’s the first item on Houston’s laundry list in the quest to lure Melo or LeBron. But, more importantly, it’s an understated move in the right direction for a team with a newbie superstar, Anthony Davis, ready to take flight.
New Orleans wants to avoid a Cleveland Cavaliers situation. You know, the one where an underperforming franchise trips over its own feet while ensuring its generational talent is surrounded by the right team. Cleveland did a bad enough job at it that New Orleans would rather avoid a similar scenario. Though Anthony Davis is only 21 years old, the Pelicans need to start building a team around him that can do better than 34-48 in a season.
At 27 years of age, Omer Asik is young enough to fulfill a role as defensive center for the Pelicans for years to come. The Turkish big man would help New Orleans in countless ways: he’d free up Davis to take on a scoring load when needed; create an environment where Davis can zero-in on opposing teams’ power forwards who tend to be more offensively minded; bother teams more effectively, helping the Pelicans to climb from a ranking of 23th in opponents field-goal percentage; snag some rebounds, as the team ranks 27th in total rebounds per contest; and, bolster a squad who already leads the league in blocks per game.
Asik’s biggest drawback is precisely why Houston is so eager to sever ties with him. Though he could be an exceptional defensive center on any team, he’s clearly not worth the $8.4 million coming his way this year. But, seeing at it would be the last year of Asik’s bloated three-year deal, the Pelicans believe one year of overpriced goods is worth the price of building right. That said, the roster still has many wrinkles to be worked out as Eric Gordon isn’t worth what he’s paid, Tyreke Evans can’t remain healthy (same can be said of Gordon), and Ryan Anderson is coming back from a bizarre injury.
But after a summer of many head-scratching moves last season, it seems that New Orleans is finally doing right by signing someone who works.
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