The rumor mill is spinning fast as the Houston Rockets aim to unload Omer Asik by December 19 according to Matt Moore of CBSSports.com. With less than 48 hours left, speculations on possible trade options increase. Various teams are said to be interested—the Philadelphia 76ers are certainly among the favorites.
Houston's general manager Daryl Morey is a busy man. He is trying to find the best offer for his unsettled Turkish center before midnight, December 19. If a player is traded before then, he can be sent away again by the trade deadline.
This allows teams much more freedom in transactions.
The Rockets could ship Asik for players they don't necessarily need or want and use those players as assets for a future trade. That way, Morey figures to get the most out of the departure of Omer Asik.
The Houston GM would love to get first-round picks for the center according to Moore.
If he can also get his hands on an athletic wing who can defend or a big man who can stretch the floor, he surely wouldn't mind. But he seems set on getting at least one first-round pick in any trade scenario.
Which teams are on top of Morey's list?
The most likely trade partner seems to be Philadelphia.
In return, Philly gets a dominant inside defender who can help lock down the paint.
Hawes, while also seven feet tall, isn't exactly an elite defender or intimidating presence. He can stretch the floor—a quality Houston is looking for.
The Rockets will likely still want to get a first-round pick on top of that, which Philadelphia will be very reluctant to give up. This means that if a deal should be struck, it will most likely involve a third party.
Lately, the Boston Celtics have become a hot topic in the trade conversation. Bryan Robb of CBS Boston discussed the possibility of trading for the Rockets center.
They could offer players like Jeff Green or Brandon Bass and could be more willing to part with a first-round draft pick given that they have two. They, too, have good connections to the Rockets. GM Danny Ainge has close ties to Daryl Morey and head coach Kevin McHale.
The question is whether the Celtics want to get better right now or tank this season.
The fact that they lead their division with a record of 12-14 shows how bad the Atlantic Division really is. They rank fourth in the East and are not likely a title contender, even with Rajon Rondo possibly returning in January.
It should be noted that most people didn't expect them to be close to .500 without the enigmatic point guard.
If Ainge thinks that Asik will pair nicely with Rondo straight away and make his team a legitimate threat for the top teams, he might go for it. If not, he will be better off sticking to Green and Bass for the time being.
Asik will be difficult to hold after his contract expires in 2015 because he will most likely play the market. And 7-footers who can defend and rebound end up getting paid big bucks.
The Rockets have shown interest in Anderson Varejao. Cleveland coach Mike Brown—more or less politely—declined that offer when speaking with Fox Sports Cavaliers.
Nonetheless, Varejao is not untouchable. Cleveland simply knows that he is a valuable asset. And its management is well aware that he would be an ideal fit for Dwight Howard and the Rockets.
While they are unlikely to agree to a deal that simply switches Varejao for Asik, they might be persuaded by a better offer. This would most likely include a third team.
The Cavs are already set up nicely inside with Andrew Bynum, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett playing alongside the Brazilian.
Their interest in another (or a different) big man would probably be limited. They might be swayed into a three-team deal that brings them a replacement for Dion Waiters, who seems bound to leave Cleveland sooner rather than later, as B/R's Jared Zwerling reported.
Since Philadelphia is one of the places Waiters would like to go to, a Houston-Philadelphia-Cleveland deal might be reasonable.
The Hawks have been handled as Morey's preferred trading target for quite some time. The reason is obvious, as Paul Millsap appears to be the perfect fit for Houston and Howard's game.
One indicator for Houston's preference is the fact that Millsap became available on December 15, the start of the trade window Morey defined. However, more than 100 players became available at that date, so one may argue that this window was merely chosen to maximize his options.
As Moore points out, trading Millsap doesn't make much sense for Atlanta, and unless the Hawks are convinced that Asik will significantly improve their team, letting Al Horford switch to power forward, they will be better off sticking to their seven-year veteran.
While Horford might prefer the 4 over banging bodies with big centers all night, he has adjusted and played his role very efficiently this season, leading his team in points, blocks and rebounds per game.
Asik would improve Atlanta's defense. But that would come at the cost of some offense.
There has also been speculation surrounding the Portland Trail Blazers, as reported by Moore.
These rumors originated from before the Blazers managed to take the league by surprise. There is no justification for Portland's management to even think about a possible deal right now. Robin Lopez has played too well for that, and the chemistry in Portland is at an all-time high.
A trade would risk everything.
So, no—Omer Asik will not go to Portland.
Let's finally end this nonsense and not talk about it ever again, please.
Besides, what would be the point for Houston? Bringing in Lopez would result in "The Asik Drama—Part 2." Robin surely wouldn't be happy playing 18 minutes per game.
There is one thing these four actual candidates (which excludes the Blazers) have in common: They are in the Eastern Conference. There are good reasons for that.
First of all, the Rockets likely have little interest trading Asik to a team in their own conference. They'll try to minimize the amount of times Dwight has to face Omer and don't want to strengthen any direct opponent.
If they did trade him inner-conference, they would surely expect an extraordinarily good deal.
Also, the vast majority of teams in the East need help. They need to improve big time. And a big center who dominates on the defensive end is always a great piece to add to your struggling team.
Lastly, teams in the woefully weak Eastern Conference are definitely less likely to become title contenders with this trade. This is an important factor for a team hoping to reach the NBA Finals.
There is hardly anything more embarrassing than losing in the finals to your former unhappy player, who you thought didn't deserve a bigger role on your team.
Trading Asik to a playoff candidate in the West could spell trouble early on in the postseason.
You better believe that he will play with extra fire against the team that thought he was not worthy of more minutes. And that fire can spill over to his teammates. Emotions are a big factor in the playoffs.
So is a pissed-off 7-footer in your opponent's paint.