The Turkish big man hasn't played since Dec. 2 against the Utah Jazz. Asik does not enjoy coming off the bench behind Dwight Howard. He was sidelined after being placed on the trading block by general manger Daryl Morey.
Morey told executives around the league that he planned on shipping off the center by his own self-imposed deadline of Dec. 19, essentially creating an auction. However, the Rockets' asking price was too high, and Morey could not pull the trigger on a deal that he liked in time. Houston held on to Asik, who still cannot play due to a swollen thigh that refuses to cooperate.
As the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches, Morey is running out of time to make a move. His generous evaluation of the big man has cost him an opportunity to successfully complete a trade.
Asik is a dominant defensive center who would benefit any team; there's no question about that. The reason why Morey's evaluation of Asik is too lavish is because of two factors: his health and his contract.
Asik hasn't played in over two months with a mysteriously nagging injury, which would cause a team to take caution before dealing for him.
The other issue is his "poison pill" contract. If Asik is dealt away, the final year of his contract (next season) would be tremendously backloaded. It would be tough for executives to plan financially and take on that big of a contract, especially when his health and his attitude are such big question marks.
The Rockets have been put in a very difficult situation.
Asik does not wish to play in Houston, but he has not exactly been raising his trade value. In fact, he has done the exact opposite. Morey and Houston fans alike probably regret not already trading Asik away, but there's no point in sulking about the past.
So what should the Rockets do with Asik? There are several pros and cons for trading him, as well as holding on to him.
Even with all of his baggage, Asik is a very valuable trade asset. As I discussed in my previous article, the Rockets have several holes in their rotation that an Asik trade could fill. An extra three-point shooter or perimeter defender would come in handy.
However, the best-case scenario would be for Asik to nurse himself back to health, change his attitude, and dominate defensively as we all know he can, even if it's off the bench. Asik backing up Howard would give Houston 48 minutes of elite rim protection, which is a huge boost for the Rockets defense, especially when Dwight gets in foul trouble.
An Asik return is unlikely, but not impossible. Realistically, Houston will have to keep him because Morey will not be able to find a suitable deal. However, Morey has proven time and time again that he is quite crafty, particularly during late February. If he thinks that Asik will never come around, he will trade away the locker-room cancer and squeeze out any value he can that will fit into his run-and-gun system.
Don't expect Asik to go anywhere, but don't be surprised if Morey finds a way to trade him either.