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Omer Asik: Rockets Take Big Step Toward Contention with Former Bulls Center

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 18:  Blood drips from the neck of Omer Asik #3 of the Chicago Bulls after he drew contact against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2012

Reality has set in for the Chicago Bulls, with ESPNChicago reporting that the team will not be able to retain center Omer Asik (whom the Rockets signed to an offer sheet on Friday).

Asik joins Jeremy Lin, foreign import Donatas Motiejunas and three first-round draft picks in the cadre of new, young players who will grace the Rockets' roster next year.

Houston has been stuck in purgatory the past few years, too good to secure a high draft pick but not good enough to seriously contend. Consequently, GM Daryl Morey tried to stockpile assets this offseason in hopes of landing Dwight Howard.

Morey was trying to replicate the Heat's paradigm of success by luring in one of the league's top-five players and building around him. But in an ironic twist of fate, he was unable to acquire Howard and now looks poised to follow the opposite approach––the Thunder paradigm of success.

The Post-Howard Rockets have already caught the eye of Grantland's Robert Mays, who writes:

"Here's the bad news for Rockets fans: It's looking more and more like Houston won't be getting Dwight Howard. Here's the good news: All the assets that Houston piled up in their attempt to get Dwight are going to make up a team that is fun as hell to watch."

Don't believe him? Check out this potential depth chart:

Role Name Age
PG Jeremy Lin 23
SG Kevin Martin 29
SF Chandler Parsons 23
PF Royce White 21
C Omer Asik 26
Bench Jeremy Lamb 20
Bench Patrick Patterson 23
Bench Terrence Jones 20
Bench Donatas Motiejunas 21
Bench Toney Douglas 26
Bench Marcus Morris 22

Asik provides something––just about the only thing––that roster previously lacked: stellar interior defense. And Asik's biggest weakness, creating his own shot, would be covered up by all the offensive weapons they have.

What's that? Lin and Kevin Martin would form an egregious shoot-first backcourt? Almost as bad as Steph Curry and Monta Ellis, you say?

Maybe. But Houston has the ultimate fail safe: they can start two point-forwards in Chandler Parsons and Royce White. Parsons was named to the NBA All-Rookie team last season, averaging a balanced 12-6-3 per 36 minutes. White, meanwhile, has been lighting up the Vegas Summer League with his Rubio-esque court vision.

Asik's offensive limitations are further combated by his presumed backup, 21-year-old Donatas Motiejunas, whom Chris Webber became immediately smitten with this summer––and with good reason. The young Lithuanian looked NBA-ready-and-a-half in Las Vegas, with the ability to score in the post, the perimeter and in transition.

Asik gives Houston the ability to protect the rim, which makes him the perfect complement to the rest of the young, trigger-happy roster.

And the players listed on the depth chart above have an average age of only 23, which means that the precocious Rockets could be building a contender for the here-and-now, as well as the future.

Like I said earlier, Morey was trying to build Miami 2.0, but he might have accidentally stumbled upon the next Oklahoma City.

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