Potential Trade Scenarios, Packages and Landing Spots for Omer Asik
Is it too early to give up on finding a fit for Asik? Possibly, but the initial returns on Dwight Howard and Asik playing together have been disastrous.
According to NBA.com's stats site, Howard and Asik have shared the floor for 93 minutes, and the Rockets have posted a net rating of minus-15.3 during that time. The Asik-Howard pairing has posted the lowest offensive rating (87.3) of any of Houston's two-man pairings that have played over 15 minutes.
Howard and Asik playing together hasn't yielded mixed results, or been a little bumpy—it's been downright awful.
With Asik frustrated by his playing time and head coach Kevin McHale looking for the right lineups, it may only be a matter of time before the Rockets have to break down and trade Asik away.
The Trade: Houston sends Omer Asik (two years/$16.6 million), Donatas Motiejunas (two years/$2.5 million) and $3 million in cash to the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap (two years/$19 million).
Why Houston Does It: Millsap would give Houston the most explosive offense in the league without compromising the fast style of play the rest of the roster seems to thrive in. Millsap's athleticism, passing ability and ever-expanding range would be a perfect fit next to Dwight Howard.
Millsap's $9.5 million dollar deal that runs through next season is one of the friendliest in the league given his level of production, and the short-term commitment would still allow the Rockets to maintain financial flexibility moving forward.
Why Atlanta Does It: This would be a steep downgrade offensively, but defensively the Hawks would get the rim protection and pick-and-roll defense they currently lack. Al Horford's deadliest weapon is his mid-range jumper, and perhaps the Hawks view Horford as more of a power forward in the mold of Tim Duncan.
The Eastern Conference seems to get bigger and scarier up front by the day, so getting nastier defensively with Asik might be appealing.
The cash included would help soften some of the blow of having to actually pay Asik $15 million next year, even though his cap number will stay at a steady $8.4 million.
The inclusion of a cheap, promising big man like Donatas Motiejunas (who has a nice stroke and a sneaky good post game) could be enough to put this over the top for Atlanta, particularly if the team is struggling after December 15th, which is the soonest Millsap can be traded.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Trade: Houston Rockets send Omer Asik (two years/$16.6 million) and a second-round draft pick to New Orleans Pelicans for Ryan Anderson (three years/$25.3 million).
Why Houston Does It: This one has been floating around for a long time, but there has to be a reason why it hasn't happened yet. Anderson has had success with Howard before in Orlando and he's one of the league's best three-point shooters, so it's hard to see why Houston wouldn't want this deal. If anything, my guess would be that it has to do with the defensive side of the ball.
Howard isn't quite the rim protector and overall help defender he once was, and the Rockets are already bleeding on the perimeter thanks to James Harden. Adding another below-average defender, on a long-term salary no less, might give the Rockets some pause.
That said, it's hard to imagine very many lineups that could outscore Houston with Anderson on board.
Why New Orleans Does It: Maybe there's hesitation from New Orleans as well. Until Anthony Davis can really solidify his jumper, there's some definite risk in moving such a capable shooter and floor-spacer. Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans need driving lanes, and Anderson creates those where Asik doesn't.
Fears of Asik leaving in unrestricted free agency after next season might be another factor, as New Orleans might not have the desire to go deep into the luxury tax to keep him.
Anderson's deal, meanwhile, expires at the same time as Eric Gordon's (unless Gordon declines his player option for the 2015-16 season) and might mesh better with the overall financial plan.
At least on the court, it's still hard to argue that Anderson is a better fit than Asik.
The Trade: Houston Rockets send Omer Asik (two years/$16.6 million) to Dallas Mavericks for Shawn Marion (one year/$9.3 million).
Why Houston Does It: If the Rockets want to help shore up their defense and add a small-ball 4 with plenty of experience playing in uptempo systems, targeting Shawn Marion wouldn't be a bad idea at all.
Marion's ability to cover four positions could really take some pressure off James Harden, and adding another finisher in transition on the wing wouldn't hurt either.
Marion's expiring deal could be very attractive, as it would provide Houston with about $8 or $9 million dollars to play with in free agency after this season. A title contender can stretch that much cash a long way.
Why Dallas Does It: Although Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair have had varying degrees of success next to Dirk Nowitzki, it would make sense to give Dirk a little more protection up front in his final years.
Dallas shouldn't have too many problems scoring with Jose Calderon setting the table, Monta Ellis "having it all" and Dirk being Dirk, but defensively rim protection is a major issue, particularly if Brandan Wright is always sidelined.
Moving Marion might be really difficult to do given his role on the championship team a few years back, but swapping a 35-year-old forward on his last legs for a game-changing big man in the middle might put sentimentality aside.
It's also important to remember that Mark Cuban might be one of the only owners who wouldn't blink at Asik's salary bump for next season, which could be a huge advantage.
Three-Way with Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics
Houston receives: Wilson Chandler (three years/$20.2 million) and Darrell Arthur (two years/$6.6 million).
Denver receives: Kris Humphries (one year/$12 million), Omer Asik (two years/$16.6 million), Terrence Jones (three years/$5.6 million).
Boston receives: JaVale McGee (three years/$33.9 million).
Why Houston Does It: Wilson Chandler is a high-quality perimeter defender who can cover multiple possessions, but he's also a vastly improved three-point shooter as well. He'd be a great fit next to Chandler Parsons and James Harden on both ends, so long as the Rockets were willing to fully embrace a small-ball strategy. Darrell Arthur is a very capable mid-range shooter, which is a valued skill next to Dwight Howard in the frontcourt.
Why Denver Does It: This would be the nuclear option for the Nuggets if they wanted to clear house. This deal would shed $10.3 million in salary for next season while returning a defensive centerpiece in the middle in Omer Asik and a promising versatile young forward in Terrence Jones. If the Nuggets are ready to give up on McGee and start reshaping a roster that has a low ceiling, this wouldn't be a bad way to start.
Why Boston Does It: JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his tibia, so he wouldn't interrupt Boston's tanking efforts this year. While McGee's $10.8 million dollar deal is obviously a huge risk, Boston might not have the cap space to make a big move in free agency this season, so flipping the expiring deal of Kris Humphries for a positional need and a high-upside guy like McGee could make sense.
Three-Way with Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans
The Trade: Three-Way deal with Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans.
Houston receives: Ersan Ilyasova (four years/$32.1 million).
Milwaukee receives: Tyreke Evans (four years/$44 million) and Brian Roberts (one year/$788k).
New Orleans receives: Omer Asik (two years/$16.6 million) and Luke Ridnour (one year/$4.4 million).
Why Houston Does It: If the Rockets are looking for a stretch 4, Ilyasova is one of the best in the business, as he's shot over 44 percent from behind the arc in his last two seasons. This trade would put a lot of pressure on Howard to hold the defense together, but if Ilyasova is your fourth option offensively, you're going to put up a ton of points.
Why Milwaukee Does It: The Bucks have a logjam in the frontcourt and might want to clear more time for John Henson. If that's the case, flipping Ilyasova for Evans could add another ball-handler and slasher capable of finding his own buckets. Could O.J. Mayo and Evans work together? It's questionable, but if fully engaged, the Bucks could become one of the best defensive teams in the league with that pairing next to Larry Sanders and Henson. Besides, trading for Evans just seems like a very Bucks thing to do.
Why New Orleans Does It: If the Pelicans are interested in Asik but don't want to give up Ryan Anderson, perhaps this is the best way to do it. Evans has been a disaster so far coming off the bench, and it might make sense to cut bait before his value sinks even further. With Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis and Anderson using a ton of possessions, swapping another high-usage wing for a defensive-minded big man would be a nice move for the Pelicans.