The signing of Howard certainly has an impact on Asik's role with the team. Asik, the team's starting center, played in all 82 games (plus the playoffs) last season, averaged a double-double and established himself as one of the better up-and-coming centers in the NBA.
With Howard on board, the Rockets have an interesting dilemma on their hands—what should they do with Asik? For starters, they will not honor his trade request. Windhorst reports the Rockets have no immediate plans to deal Asik and are turning away teams that call about his availability.
The Rockets could do well in a return for Asik, as they could either get good talent or cap relief in return. Cap relief could help the team go after more free agents, while good talent could help the team continue to build around the core of Howard and James Harden without the risk of losing out on free agents.
Head coach Kevin McHale already has plans for Asik heading into next season, even if Asik isn't exactly pleased about his new role. McHale believes the Rockets could go with lineups containing both Howard and Asik—something that opposing teams should fear.
A frontcourt of Howard and Asik would easily be one of the top rebounding lineups in the NBA while also ranking high in terms of defense. Offensively, both Howard and Asik are strong and have the ability to shoot over 50 percent from the floor.
Such a combination would be lethal, but the Rockets aren't strangers to such a duo. McHale referenced the Rockets of the 1980s that featured both Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Comparing the two duos is unfair, but the impact that Howard and Asik could have may yield similar results.
McHale sees playing time off the bench for Asik, though he did not reveal how often that would happen.
The best course of action for Houston remains to be seen. A current starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones or Donatas Motiejunas and Howard is pretty deep, but trading Asik to gain cap relief to sign another free agent is an option that is still on the table.
General manager Daryl Morey has proven that he is one of the top minds in the NBA, so Houston fans can rest assured that their team is in good hands. Asik or no Asik, the Rockets stand to be much improved next season.
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