The Houston Rockets aggressively shopped Omer Asik before signing Dwight Howard in an effort to clear cap space, and then mysteriously stopped once reaching an agreement with Howard. Now it is Asik who returned the favor by asking for a trade out of Houston.
That is not to say that his request will be necessarily met. Kevin McHale has publicly stated that the Rockets will try and pair Asik and Howard playing together, with Howard as the power forward.
“You do play two bigs,” McHale said. “You have to get spacing and you have to make sure your small guys have got to make sure they keep the court spaced.”
Whether or not they will be able to remains to be seen but surly Asik is much too valuable (and highly paid) to play backup to Howard. Asik is coming off a career year in which averaged 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1 block per game. He does not seem ready to accept a relegated role on the team, which is likely how he sees the situation potentially playing out and the cause of him asking the franchise for a trade.
ESPN insider Kevin Pelton listed Asik in his list of ten players most likely to be traded this past week.
“The Rockets will surely experiment with playing both big men together after successfully starting Asik alongside another paint-bound player, Greg Smith.”
However, Pelton also added:
“If the Rockets can parlay him into a stretch 4 to complement Howard, GM Daryl Morey surely won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.”
Atlanta has emerged as a legitimate contender for Asik’s services, as his toughness and defensive presence are coveted attributes by the Hawks. Asik would allow Al Horford to shift to his more natural power forward position. It would also give Horford more slack on the defensive end and allow him to hide some of his inabilities.
ESPN insider Bradford Doolittle had this to say on Asik’s potential fit with the team.
“I love him for the Hawks. He would fit into the increasingly international flavor of Atlanta’s locker room, would allow Al Horford to play the 4 and would make Paul Millsap a Sixth Man of the Year candidate or a valuable trade option.”
What they would have to give up in return is speculative at this stage, but draft picks would almost certainly be involved.
Washington has also recently emerged as a possible destination for Asik in light of Emeka Okafor’s latest injury that will keep him sidelined ‘indefinitely.’
Hopefully Asik will realize the potential the Hawks would have with him at center. His style of play and defensive presence fit Horford’s weaknesses like a glove, and likewise Asik’s not-yet-matured offensive game can develop just from playing around a gifted offensive player like Horford. The two would immediately give the Hawks one of the more formidable frontcourts in the NBA and, with Jeff Teague and co., gives them a chance to make a push late into the postseason.
Here’s to hoping.