Teams That Should Be Interested in Potential Omer Asik Trade
Asik was one of the league's breakout stars last season. After toiling away on the Bulls' bench for two years, he proved to be a capable starter in his debut with the Rockets. He averaged 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a night in 82 games.
Despite those impressive numbers, the team still opted to sign the league's best center in Dwight Howard. Understandably, Asik was less than pleased by the arrival of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year and asked the team for a trade.
However, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the team has no plans to grant Asik's request.
For now, that seems to be the smart decision. Asik is under contract for two more seasons, so there's no rush to make a deal. Plus, playing next to Howard could elevate Asik's value, which would lead to a better deal down the road.
Still, that shouldn't stop other teams from contacting Rockets GM Daryl Morey right now with their best sales pitch. In theory, the ideal match for an Asik trade would be a team with a need for a starting center that could send back someone that is a more natural fit at power forward.
If a solid 4 can't be had, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Houston to secure a draft pick in what is expected to be a loaded draft next summer.
Here are a handful of teams that should be interested in trading for Omer Asik.
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The Boston Celtics were in desperate need for some size even before they sent Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. With KG gone, the team could use a good big man that can contribute on both ends of the court.
According to ESPN's 2013-14 depth chart, Boston is poised to roll out Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass as their starters in the frontcourt. Rookie Kelly Olynyk and second-year man Jared Sullinger will also be factored into the equation.
However, with some young trade pieces to dangle, Boston has the ammunition to strike a deal for Omer Asik. A potential trade could go in a number of directions.
Boston could center a package around dynamic-yet-brittle guard Avery Bradley. They could send back some of the draft picks acquired from Brooklyn in the Garnett deal. They could even offer a promising prospect like Olynyk or Sullinger.
They could also try to con the Rockets into taking back someone like Humphries or Bass.
From a money and need standpoint, trading Bradley and Bass to Houston for Asik works out for both teams. Bass has played alongside Howard before (two seasons in Orlando) and Bradley would give the Rockets a top-notch defender in the backcourt.
Plus, the Rockets have enough guards to safeguard themselves in the event that Bradley's injury woes continue.
As for Boston, Asik's efficiency on the glass and scoring in the paint would complement the mid-range game of someone like Olynyk. It would also allow Humphries to move to his more natural spot at power forward.
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The Philadelphia 76ers are in full rebuilding mode. The team is comprised of a number of intriguing prospects, but very few proven stars. The hope is that this year's rookies, Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, become franchise anchors sometime in the future.
They also plan on being players in next summer's much-anticipated draft. They already acquired a top-five protected pick from New Orleans in a deal that sent point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Noel.
Another move that makes sense for the Sixers would be to go after Omer Asik.
Asik would give Philadelphia an upgrade over current starter Spencer Hawes. It also allows the rail-thin Noel to stay at power forward once he recovers from his ACL injury. An Asik-Noel combination inside would be a nightmare for opponents trying to attack the basket.
In return, Philadelphia has two options. They could send back combo forward Thaddeus Young in a straight-up swap for Asik. The Georgia Tech product is coming off a season that saw him average 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while also shooting 53 percent from the field.
Plan B would be trading New Orleans' 2014 first-round pick to Houston for Asik. As tough as it might be to part with a lottery pick in a deep draft, what are the chances of the Sixers finding a big man better than Asik outside of the top five?
NBADraft.net has Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein and Kansas' Joel Embiid listed as the top two centers in next year's draft. They are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, on Aran Smith's big board. What happens if New Orleans lives up to potential, and the Sixers are picking 10th or 12th?
Why hope another team will be lousy enough to earn you a decent draft spot when you can swing that pick into a proven starter right now? The bigger the mystery surrounding where New Orleans land, the more intriguing the pick becomes.
Why not strike while the iron is hot?
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The Washington Wizards have an adequate frontcourt duo in Emeka Okafor and Nene Hilario. Okafor is a solid post defender that flirts with a double-double on a nightly basis. Last season, he averaged 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.
Hilario is a powerful and athletic big man that is just a touch better offensively than Okafor. Both men are worthwhile starters, but Washington could do better in an attempt to improve their frontcourt.
That's where Omer Asik comes in.
There isn't a huge gap, statistically, between Asik and the two Wizards' big men. However, Okafor and Hilario are both 30 years old and have peaked as pros.
Asik, on the other hand, is 27 and entering his fourth season in the NBA. He is coming off a season where he made huge strides in his first full season as a starter. His stone hands aren't an ideal fit as John Wall's running mate, but he'll make it up in other ways.
Washington's compensation for Asik is where things get tricky. If Houston wants to get out of Asik's contract, they could take back Okafor's expiring deal which has just under $14.5 million left on it (though Houston would have to add a couple bodies to make the salaries work).
Okafor would be a suitable replacement at power forward. Plus, pairing Okafor with Dwight Howard would give the Rockets the top two picks from the 2004 draft, which is a factoid that will inevitably get beat into the ground.
With the Wizards gunning for a playoff spot, they could also throw in a pick in next year's draft. The addition of Asik along with the talented trio of Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter should keep Washington out of the lottery.
The Wizards aren't a perfect choice but, if Washington is serious about being competitive, they are going to need to improve up front. Right now, Omer Asik is the best potential name on the market.
Portland Trail Blazers
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The Portland Trail Blazers spent the offseason retooling the worst bench in the NBA. The team got an average of 18.5 points per game from their second unit, which was good for last place in the league.
They added some key reserves such as Dorell Wright, Mo Williams and rookie C.J. McCollum.
The next order of business is finding a suitable center to start alongside All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland obtained Robin Lopez from New Orleans, but he's more of a stopgap than a long-term answer.
Omer Asik would be a great acquisition to fill the hole at center. The problem is it would probably come at the cost of the team's revamped bench. If you're Portland, are you willing to send a package headlined by McCollum to Houston for Asik?
The upside to that deal is that Portland gets one of the league's best centers in exchange for a talented guard that might not be a great fit alongside Damian Lillard. The risk is that McCollum lives up to his potential and pairs with James Harden to form one of the league's best backcourts on a championship contender.
You have to give something to get something in this league. With Aldridge already frustrated, Portland has to show it is making an effort to win now. The Blazers made some good moves, but time will tell whether there is an immediate impact.
McCollum could be the biggest steal of the draft, or he could be the latest reason for Portland to go back to the drawing board. Do the Blazers wait to find out what they have, or do they roll that potential into a proven starter at a need area?
New Orleans Pelicans
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Like Vanessa Williams, we saved the best for last.
From the minute Omer Asik declared he wanted out of Houston, a trade to New Orleans for sharpshooting power forward Ryan Anderson has been the best possible option.
For starters, it fills huge needs for both teams. The Pelicans have been searching for a starting center to play alongside Anthony Davis all summer. As it stands, their options are Greg Stiemsma, Jeff Withey and Jason Smith.
As for Houston, Ryno is the perfect stretch four to open up space for Dwight Howard in the paint. Anderson averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, while shooting 38 percent from behind the arc and nailing 213 threes (second behind Stephen Curry).
It also helps that Anderson and Dwight Howard played together in Orlando.
Losing Anderson would be a tough blow for New Orleans. He was their most consistent player last season and was a huge spark off the bench. However, he's being paid $8.3 million to be a key reserve, and the team already has a super-sub in Tyreke Evans.
Plus, the loss of Anderson will be offset by a bonafide center in Asik. If the Pelicans pass on making a move for Asik now, who do they expect to be their long-term answer at center? With potentially no first-round pick next summer, what free agents can New Orleans go after to fill their void inside?
Asik for Anderson is a deal that makes too much sense not to happen. They are two talented big men whose careers will be hindered by the presence of better options on the roster. It is time to make the swap that many have been waiting for.