I know it doesn't really fit the mold of the 6'6" prerequisites to be a starting center for the Houston Rockets the past three years, but Daryl Morey decided to give this seven footer thing a try by stealing away Chicago Bulls defensive stud Omer Asik on a three-year, $25.1 million contract that Chicago declined to match.
By going two for two on the restricted free agent front, Daryl Morey has set the team up brilliantly for a full on rebuild if the silly Dwight drama doesn't fall his way. He's gotten an anchor for the middle, a starting point guard, a high-ceiling big man and a trio of intriguing young rookies to let grow. Not to mention a plethora of first and second round draft picks to use next year.
As far as those that are disgruntled with the Asik signing, I really have to scratch my head and wonder why. Did the layup drill we've witnessed every single game the past three years not frustrate you as much as it did me? Also, do some research before you blast his contract. It's an $8 million per season cap hit, that's it. Who cares what Les Alexander is really paying him? That's his problem, not ours. Remember that Kris Humphries is getting $12 million per year and Javale McGee dunked his way to $11 million per year, and he's better defensively than either of them. Remember, it isn't always about points per game. Stopping the other team from scoring points is just as important.
You'll come around on Asik. He's a young, legit seven footer who can block shots, shut down the lane and rebound. You know, all those things the Rockets have been missing the last three years.
Because Tom published a post five minutes after Mike and doesn't want to feel that his time was wasted — what a jackass, right? — here are his thoughts on the move, if you care to see them:
If you missed it earlier and would like some perspective on Asik, here's a podcast I did with Matt from Blogabull.com. They're sad to lose him, trust me. Yeah, he doesn't look like a basketball player, not with that haircut. You may not think the name "Omer Asik" is someone worth spending money on, and you may look at his stats and think, "What the HELL are we doing?" But look further than that, because you're missing the point if you don't. Asik is a good player and he has a chance to become a very good center in a league that seems to see fewer seven-footers every year. I don't think the Bulls could realistically match the specific offer that was thrown their way, but they wanted to keep him without a doubt.
So what are the Rockets getting in Asik? They get a fantastic post defender, a terrific rebounder and someone who can finish around the rim on offense but not necessarily do more than that. He's going to have to put up huge defensive numbers to justify his contract, but I think he's capable of maintaining his short-term production over the long haul. He's never missed one game in his career, somewhat of a rarity among big men.
I like the move, obviously. It's not as if the Rockets are shoving money toward veterans: Lin and Asik are still young and inexperienced. The moves don't hurt the cap too much - in fact, the Rockets need more contracts like these to meet the salary floor if a Howard deal doesn't go through - and they put the Rockets in a great position to rebuild should a Howard trade not materialize. There's something to be said for aiming young. Not everyone does it readily, especially teams so hungry to win in the short-term. Credit the Rockets for spending money the right way, if anything.