"But I WANT to leave!"
Everyone is aware that general manager Daryl Morey is ready to part ways with the Turkish big man, who has become rather disgruntled due to his role on the team (i.e. sitting behind Dwight Howard). But he's still a member of the Houston organization.
Well, a few things, and we'll go over those in a second.
But first, it's important to note that Asik is actively preparing for an upcoming trade. That much was made clear when, as reported by CBS Sports' Ken Berger, he decided to switch agents from Andy Miller to Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, a much more powerful agent in the NBA world.
In fact, Tellem—and Wasserman Media Group in general—comes in atop HoopsHype's rankings of the top agents in the sport.
But now, back to the topic at hand. Asik hasn't been traded for a lot of reasons, and it's about more than rival general managers viewing the asking price as "delusional," per Berger.
"Yeah, I know I make a lot of money."
It's not easy to trade a player saddled with a contract like Asik's.
For him, it's a wonderful thing. He gets paid a boatload of money for the next few years, after all. But for the Rockets, it's a negative because salaries have to be balanced in an NBA trade (to a certain extent, but that's not entirely relevant right now since we aren't crafting specific deals).
Per ShamSports, Asik is making $8,374,646 this season, which is far too much for a limited offensive player with great defensive skills. Don't get me wrong, as the Turkish big man is valuable. He just isn't worth that type of money, especially because he'll be given an identical sum in 2014-15.
Other teams know this, and the NBA as a whole is becoming increasingly conscious of finances.
We've seen fewer general managers willing to shell out large chunks of cash for mid-level players, and that was especially relevant this past offseason. Guys like Monta Ellis just remained on the market forever, as no one wanted to take the risk that has panned out rather nicely for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Rockets have their work cut out for them as they attempt to justify Asik's salary.
"Why did I have to get hurt?"
A bruised thigh has kept Asik from playing since early December, and that doesn't help out Morey and the rest of the Houston front office.
It would be better if he were fully healthy and showing off his defensive skills rather than nursing the injury on the Rockets bench. Every blocked shot and rebound helps him justify the amount of money he makes each year, and it provides further incentive for other teams to part with assets.
Sitting on the pine and picking splinters out of his fanny doesn't do much other than raise concerns about his durability and willingness to play through pain for his team. Especially when the injury that's kept him out of action for over a week is listed as a bruised thigh.
Kobe Bryant shot—and made—two free throws after tearing his Achilles. Rajon Rondo once tore his ACL and finished the game.
Not to be insensitive, but Asik is sitting out because of a bruised thigh.
I've had a contusion before, so I know how painful and physically crippling a deep bruise can be. But this still doesn't help enhance perception of the big man while he's on the block.
During the early portion of the season, the Rockets had a lot of questions to answer. Although they had James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons on the roster, there were still glaring question marks at power forward and point guard.
How good could Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin be? Which player, if any, would step up at the 4?
Well, they're starting to get answers now.
Beverley hasn't been particularly great at point guard, but Lin has surpassed the expectations by a rather large margin, especially since he moved into his role as the team's sixth man. Additionally, Aaron Brooks has looked solid whenever called into action.
At power forward, Terrence Jones has emerged from a pack that also included Greg Smith and Donatas Motiejunas. The No. 18 pick in the 2012 NBA draft looks like a serious breakout candidate, averaging 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting efficiently and spacing the court with his long-range attempts.
Now that the Rockets have an idea of what they're dealing with, they're also more aware of the team's weaknesses. Power forward isn't as big a need as originally thought, for example.
Trades don't happen very often in the NBA.
There's a reason that the trading deadline is often market by either inactivity or a flurry of inconsequential deals that draw headlines only due to the dearth of stories that actually impact the landscape of the league. There's a reason that the Rudy Gay trade is the exception, not the rule. There's a reason that you can go years at a time without a single marquee trade.
Salaries are tough to balance, and even when they do match, players don't often fit with the other team. That, more than any other factor presented thus far, has held the Rockets from making a trade.
Morey knows that he wants to deal Asik, and if the right offer had come flowing into his inbox, he surely would have pulled the trigger. But it hasn't, and that's because it's just tough to find a viable trading partner.
As ESPN's Marc Stein wrote before discussing the Philadelphia 76ers as a possible destination for Asik, "Pinpointing a front-runner in the Omer Asik trade sweepstakes is still tricky at this juncture."
At times, it seems like either a team wants Asik and can't make it happen or can make it happen and doesn't want him.
There are two prominent dates that have kept Asik from being moved at this point in the 2013-14 season:
- December 15
- December 19
The first is the date on which players who signed as free agents during the offseason festivities can be included in deals. According to Larry Coon's tremendous CBA FAQ, "Generally a team only has to keep a player for three months after signing a contract or December 15 of that season, whichever is later."
The second is the date that the Rockets must close a deal by.
If they trade Asik after that, the players that they acquire can't be subsequently traded before the trade deadline, which is defined by Coon as, "3:00 PM Eastern Time on the 17th Thursday of the season." In this case, that would February 20, so given the three-month rule...well, you can connect the dots.
It doesn't make sense for the Rockets to trade Asik if the calendar doesn't read a date that's on or in between the two aforementioned ones.
They'd be limiting their own possibilities if they did so.