NBA Trade Deadline: What Could the Blazers Give Up for Omer Asik?
Omer Asik was seen as an untouchable player at last year's trade deadline. This year, however, it could be a different story. That is because Asik becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. More than likely some team will throw starter money at Asik, and the Bulls won't want to match and pay their backup center like a starter. That would result in losing Asik without getting anything of his value in return.
The NBA goes crazy over legit seven-footers with some skills. Andris Biedrins is making $9 million this year, and he wouldn't see the court if he was on the Bulls. So, I don't think it's a far-fetched idea at all that a few teams out there want Asik as a starter and will pay him accordingly to do so.
The issue here is the 25-year-old Asik is a key member of the "Bench Mob." He plays defense, he cleans the glass, and he can score when he's under the bucket.
A concerning fact about Asik though, is his drop in playing time. While he is averaging about 16 minutes a game, he has played 16 or more minutes in just two of the Bulls last 16 games. Plus there are rumors swirling about the Bulls signing Joel Przybilla or Kyrylo Fesenko. Neither would match what Asik does, but they could definitely do a solid job in the backup role.
To top it all off, moving Asik now could upgrade your starting lineup, which makes it a little easier to match up with Miami in the playoffs. I'm not saying the Bulls need to trade Asik, but I do think they should take a look at their long-term plan for him and not risk losing him for nothing.
Here are three ideas for a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers who should be ready to close the book on their former franchise center, Greg Oden.
Jamal Crawford and Kurt Thomas
First of all, this trade can't happen until March 1 because Crawford (31) and Thomas (39) signed with Portland this past abbreviated offseason.
Crawford is scoring about 14 ppg off the Blazers' bench this year, and he is a known scorer over the course of his entire career. He would definitely add a scoring punch to Chicago's lineup while Hamilton recovers from injury, then he would become a great sixth option once Hamilton returns.
Thomas' value to the Bulls is clear. He was a piece the Bulls didn't necessarily want to lose from last year. He can be a valuable fill-in piece as the playoffs draw closer.
In order for this deal to work financially, the Bulls will need to include either Brewer (26) or Korver (31). Since neither Crawford nor Hamilton is a defensive stalwart, the Bulls would probably rather ship Korver.
Personally, I think this is the worst of my three potential deals for the Bulls, and the best of the three for the Blazers. That is mostly based on the age of the players involved. With Asik at 25 years old, the Blazers would get much younger with this deal.
This trade would again include either Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver plus Asik to work financially.
Matthews provides a more balanced game from the shooting guard position, while providing size. Matthews stands at 6' 5" and weighs 220 pounds. He plays solid defense, while averaging about 13 points per game for his career. Matthews also shoots well from outside (.390), and last season had a career best .407 from beyond the arc. For reference, Korver's was .415 last year.
The best part about Matthews is he is only 25. That means he presents a short and long term option for the Bulls at shooting guard. Whether he starts or comes off the bench once Rip comes back is up to the coaching staff. Going forward, however, Matthews could potentially hold down the starting two-guard spot for the Bulls for the foreseeable future.
I feel this is the most balanced trade for both teams, and with Matthews losing his starting spot recently, I feel this is a realistic option.
So, here's where we lose the Portland fans.
Batum supplanted Matthews as the starting shooting guard for the Blazers and has been putting up points ever since. In his last five games, the Frenchman is averaging almost 22 points. He can hit from 3 (.417 percent this season), and he can drive the lane.
Batum is also committed to the defensive end more than Crawford, and possibly Matthews. He's averaged nearly two blocks per game aver his last five. His 6' 8" frame definitely gives him an advantage when matching up against other guards.
To top off his wide range of size and skill, Batum is just 23.
So, why in the world would Portland move him? Well it is basically in the same situation the Bulls are in with Asik. He is a starting caliber player who becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the year. His recent surge is definitely boosting the value of his next contract, so the Blazers need to decide if they will be willing to match a big deal. If they are, then it's pretty clear Batum is in their long-term plans as a starting guard/forward. However, if they aren't sure, then they'd be better served moving him instead of letting him walk in the offseason.
Asik for Batum straight up works financially, but the Bulls will almost certainly need to sweeten this deal with draft picks or young players like Jimmy Butler. If the Bulls do this, they are committing to a long-term swing-man who could start right now, and potentially start for at least the next six years. Asik, on the other hand, could start next year for the Blazers when Marcus Camby's deal ends.
This would be a tough deal for the Blazers to feel good about doing, but at this point, who is their long-term center? Camby is 37, and Kurt Thomas is 39. Both teams would lose a little here and add a little there, which is how trades usually work.
A potential variation on this deal could be to include Watson and Brewer, while absorbing Felton who has become a problem in Portland. This is getting a little too deep into cutting and chopping the Bulls for my liking though, but it's a long-shot option.