Preseason is underway for the Houston Rockets, but there is still a lot that can happen between now and the start of the regular season. general manager Daryl Morey has always been shrewd, so don't be shocked if he makes some moves to shake things up.
There are a number of things that could unfold before the season opener. Omer Asik may not want to return to the bench behind Dwight Howard. The Rockets still don't have a clear-cut starting power forward and may be looking to make a trade. There is also a lot of expendable talent at the end of the bench that could be useful elsewhere.
With several opportunities to perfect an already contending roster, look for Morey to jump at the chance tom make his team even better.
Here are a handful of things that could happen before the Rockets start their season against the Charlotte Bobcats on October 30.
Trade Omer Asik
Above him on that list, however, is the most dominant center in the league: Dwight Howard.
Howard is the Rockets' prized acquisition over the offseason. He will team up with superstar James Harden and together the duo forms an amazing core for a championship-contending team. Asik played well last season and was a big part of that team's playoff run, but he cannot compare to the best in the business.
After Houston snatched Howard in free agency, Asik wanted to be traded, although he refused to comment on it during media day at the start of training camp. Asik used to backup All-Star center Joakim Noah on the Chicago Bulls, and he doesn't want his minutes cut down again like they used to be.
Asik is a very valuable trade piece for the Rockets. Plenty of other teams could use his services, and if Houston gets the right offer, they may be willing to part ways with the Turkish big man.
The one piece missing from an exciting starting lineup is a legitimate power forward. Morey could easily use Asik as trade bait and get that power forward in return. The only question is whether he wants to pull the trigger on a deal this soon.
Preseason just started, and Asik hasn't played due to a calf injury. The team will experiment with Howard at power forward in order to play both big men together, as reported by Brett Pollakoff at NBC Sports.
In reality, this experiment is probably more hopeful than it is practical. The twin towers in the middle would clog up space and slow down a quick-paced offense that likes to run up the scoreboard. No one would out-rebound the Rockets, but the costs may outweigh the benefits with this lineup.
It's also possible that Asik can adjust back to his former role coming off the bench. This way, the Rockets would have constant rim protection for all 48 minutes, which is a big plus.
As long as the locker room is untroubled, Asik will most likely remain a Rocket, at least until the February trade deadline. Unless Morey gets an offer he can't refuse, Asik probably won't be going anywhere, but the move is in Morey's back pocket just in case.
Swap the Leftovers for Any Value You Can Get
The Rockets added a huge chunk of new players to their roster over the summer. There are 17 players under contract for the preseason. Only 13 men can make the final active roster, but there are about 15 guys who are worthy of a spot, and that's not even counting the talented rookies who will be ready a little ways down the road.
The Rockets have a ton of depth on their roster, which means quality players may not see the floor too often. Morey has the option of trading away any unneeded talent and bringing in future draft picks.
Guys like Omri Casspi, Reggie Williams and Aaron Brooks are all good NBA players, but they won't get many opportunities at the end of the bench in Houston. They could be much more productive on another team. If the Rockets are willing to part ways with any of these players, they can trade for draft picks and stockpile assets.
At the start of the season, a couple of quality players will end up drawing the short end of the stick. Houston will have a couple of guys just miss the cut that it can trade away to teams that would actually use them. Instead of just cutting these players, Morey should try and get any value he can in return.
Since he was hired in 2007, Morey has been one of the most active general managers in the league. Don't expect him to stop now just because the roster looks good at the moment.