Omer Asik looks to be headed out, finally. Word is he will be gone by December 19.
With a moderate $8 million salary (if you can call any salary "moderate" in the NBA), he seems like a great trade asset—if there wasn't Houston's asking price.
One can argue that Asik, while a solid defensive player and rebounder, doesn't provide adequate offense to warrant such a deal.
So far this season he has already missed six games and shown some worrisome behavior in what is admittedly a tough situation for him.
Averaging 30 minutes last season, he now plays 18.3 minutes per game. It is no surprise the frustration shows.
With the Rockets mostly using him as an expensive bench candidate, there is reason to believe that they will soon want to trade him for far less. And keep in mind, we will have an NBA draft of 2014 loaded with very promising talent.
Then, of course, there is the simple fact that there are only so many teams who actually have two first-rounders to offer. For the sake of argument, let's assume we are talking about a two-team deal.
There are currently just three franchises with two guaranteed picks in the opening round of the 2014 NBA draft—Boston, Orlando and Utah. There are seven more candidates depending on various conditions surrounding protected picks.
The Utah Jazz are dead in the water. They are last in the Western Conference and a candidate for a top-three pick.
They, like Orlando, don't really want to improve.
That leaves the Boston Celtics. While they are currently fourth in the East and look playoff-bound, don't get any wrong ideas: they would be 14th in the West and are more likely to make an early playoff exit—if they even make it that far.
They would be better off forgetting about this season and rebuilding with the help of the 2014 draft (and a healthy Rajon Rondo).
Of the seven teams with protected first-round picks (Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Oklahoma, Philadelphia and Phoenix), only the Heat and Thunder are title contenders—and strong ones, at that.
The others have no reason to give up their opportunities to draft talented young players who will help them improve for many years to come. Not for someone whom you definitely would not consider a franchise player.
But why would Miami or Oklahoma City trade for Omer Asik?
While Asik might upgrade the Thunder nominally, Houston has proved that the twin-tower concept looks great on paper but doesn't necessarily work out in real life. Apart from that, they don't have any cap space left.
A trade would have to involve Kendrick Perkins, who matches Asik's salary.
When I say that he matches the Turk's salary, I am referring to the $8 million salary counting against the cap. In fact, Houston's benched center will receive over $15 million next season (despite still sitting at $8 million officially), which means a huge luxury-tax hit.
This is just another reason why the Rockets would like to get rid of him now that Dwight Howard eats up 35 percent of the salary cap. And it is another reason why teams so far have been less than enthusiastic about the unreasonable demands by Houston.
Would the Rockets trade Asik for Perkins plus two low first-rounders? I highly doubt it.
They would be better off trading Asik for one pick in the top 15 if they can indeed find someone willing to take the 7-footer off their hands for that price.
Whatever they do, they are in a tight spot.
The ideal trading window is from December 15 to December 19.
On December 15, players who were signed before the season started will become available for trade. If the Rockets manage to trade Asik by December 19, they can subsequently trade whoever they get just before the trading deadline on February 20, allowing themselves some leeway.
Anyone signed after December 19 will be with them for the rest of the season (unless they waive him).
The only thing that should give Rockets fans some hope is that their management seems very confident about the trade happening before December 19.
In fact, the somewhat absurd demands may indicate that they do have a solid plan B which includes some players available come December 15 (be it as a main target or simply as fillers to accommodate for Asik's salary).
It all doesn't change the fact that Houston has a problem if it cannot get rid of Asik eventually.
Having a guy on the bench who will cost you a lot of money in luxury tax is one thing. Having a guy disgruntled and causing bad chemistry in the locker room can be devastating.
Do you think Omer Asik will be traded by December 19?
Having both in one player is a disaster.
Whatever the Rockets end up doing, one thing must be clear by now.
They need to make reasonable demands. And with everyone in the league knowing that they must get rid of Asik, the price automatically drops.
Omer Asik is like a used car.
The longer you, as a buyer, wait, the lower the price will drop. Especially if the other person really needs to sell that car within a certain time limit.
It is hard to determine Asik's actual value, but looking at Houston's situation it becomes clear that its management is in a bad position for trade negotiations. This position will get worse each passing day.
So unless the Rockets do have a legitimate plan B, it is time for them to get real.