At some point in the next year, Omer Asik is going to be traded. Everybody in the league knows that this is true, but the question of when that trade will go down has yet to be answered. As December 15th, the beginning of the NBA trade season is approaching, rumors and reports about the Rockets position on an Asik trade are starting to "leak" out.
The latest is from Ken Berger, discussing Omer Asik's future based on "conversations with league GMs":
Houston's disgruntled center has been unhappy with his role since the Rockets landed Dwight Howard, and the situation isn't going to get any better. After playing four minutes at Philadelphia on Nov. 13 and riding the bench against the Knicks on Nov. 14, Asik finally logged 20-plus minutes in back-to-back games this week for the first time since early November. The limiting factor, of course, is that while Asik counts only $8.4 million against the cap/tax, his actual salary next season is $15 million. Given those constraints and Asik's sad-sack demeanor, one rival GM described the Rockets as "delusional" as far as their asking price for him.
Here are my thoughts on this:
1) You're going to hear a lot of people discussing how the Rockets are "crazy" or "asking for the moon" for Asik up until the day Asik is traded, and it's just gamesmanship from opposing GM's. If the overwhelming sentiment in the league is that the Rockets are asking too much for Asik, that GM might hope that such a thought would pressure the Rockets into trading Asik for less.
Any GM that needs a center but doesn't want to meet Morey's asking price will try to discredit the Rockets' position.
2) In the last few sentences of that excerpt, Berger notes the factors that have led to the Rockets lack of bargaining power. Most notably, he discusses Asik's unhappiness and his contract that balloons to $15 million next year. What he leaves out, however, are points that go counter to the idea that the Rockets absolutely have to trade Asik.
When the Rockets moved Terrence Jones into the starting lineup a few weeks ago, they were in much worse shape. With no proven power forward and no reason to expect Jones to burst onto the scene to the extent that he has, the Rockets were obviously searching for a power forward. Now that Jones is thriving and Casspi continues to play well, Daryl Morey does not have to rush into any Omer Asik deal.
On top of that, the monetary aspect of his contract is overplayed. Asik's deal calls for him to receive $15 million next year, but just over $5 million this year. If the Rockets threw in $3 million cash, they would essentially close the gap between his cap hit and his true salary.
3) With all that said, this report very well may be true. I almost would hope that such a report would be true. Omer Asik is one of the top trade chips in the league, and to give him away for anything short of a king's ransom would be a mistake for the Rockets. Asik is a double-double guy who gives you elite defense (allowing just 40.0% shooting on the season at the rim), and there are few guys who can give you that.
Daryl Morey's style is to extract as much value as possible out of a deal, and in that sense he may be viewed as somewhat "delusional" by opposing GM's, but it's a strategy that has worked out for him in the past. If the Rockets absolutely had a hole to fill right now, I could understand why there would be a pressing need to trade Asik, but right now, it makes sense for Morey to go for a big deal now. What does he have to lose?