Omer Asik recently inked a deal to be represented by Arn Tellem. Tellem is most widely known for a few things that Rockets fans should become familiar with. Many of Tellem's clients are high-profile NBA players who tend to reap massive paydays. More importantly, however, Tellem engineered Kobe Bryant's entry into the league, delivery to Los Angeles, and borderline obstruction during the draft process. Make no mistake about it, however, Tellem represents a massive portion of the NBA. Asik's signing with Tellem may be just an inevitable movement or an attempt to make headway in his trade negotiations. The fact remains that, as it stands, this is just an agent change. Tellem is not in the same ilk as Eugene Parker in the NFL (Notorious for hold-outs, refusing to negotiate with a team when he represents a pending free agent, and forced trades) nor is Tellem in the same class as World Wide Wes (Engineering defections, spreading influence, and broadening the NCAA to NBA pipeline). The big factor to consider here, Rockets fans, is that Tellem is a man who gets his clients paid. So, while a change in agents can signal a great deal of new things on the horizon, this change may ultimately not mean much at all.
Omer Asik wants to be traded. That much we know. Andy Miller was not making headway with the Houston Rockets front office. That wasn't Miller's fault per se. Asik inked a deal with the Rockets to leverage his status as a second-round pick (5-5-15 in pay grade, 8-8-8 in cap hit). Asik is in the second year of his deal and the Rockets know they have him for another year if they choose. Asik cannot hold out because, as we've seen in the Royce White situation, the Rockets can fine him to recoup their money. Tellem himself is most widely known for his proficiency in earning a payday for his clients. Most recently Tellem engineered the eyesore that is Joe Johnson's maximum extension. Tellem's resume is actually pretty complete with some great players earning sensible extensions. So, if Tellem excels in negotiating dollars and cents, what good was changing from Miller to Tellem now?
Well, as far as the timing goes, Asik is in need of some repair to his public image. He's been cast a mopey seven footer who lost his starting spot to the best center in the NBA. Further damaging his image is that Asik has now been linked twice to public trade demands. Trade demands don't leak publicly without at least one party looking to gain some leverage. Once it's in the open it's in the open and the damage is done. In that regard, hiring Tellem doesn't change the trade situation in the slightest. What hiring Tellem does do, however, is put a man behind Asik that has a litany of high-profile and high character clients. Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, and Anthony Davis are just a few clients in good standing amongst most NBA fans and offices. Asik could truly benefit from a guy like Tellem giving him direction and helping him to navigate this stage in his career. Asik's biggest drop in value has not come from his play but his sulking. Tellem stands to help solve that.
Additionally, you could reasonably read into the situation that Asik knows that he is at the Rockets' mercy and his next big move may hinge on free agency. In that regard, Asik made the right move in hiring Tellem. It would seem that the majority of Tellem's clients ink deals that maximize out their potential pay-grade. It's worth noting that under the new collective bargaining agreement, one of Tellem's biggest success stories not governed by the NBA's rookie scale are JJ Reddick's and Tiago Splitter's current contracts. The era of bloated contracts on behalf of Tellem's clients will be tested once Asik hits free agency or has to negotiate a new deal. As pointed out by Patrick in his write up Tellem represents Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. What cannot be glossed over is that Jones and DMo could have been represented by literally anyone, their salaries are guaranteed under a defined formula. Any potential negotiations Tellem has from this point forward regarding Asik, his pay, or his future with the Rockets is under a completely new set of expectations.
Daryl Morey calls the shots for the Rockets. Sure, Tellem has some prior familiarity with owner Leslie Alexander (Tellem represented Tracy McGrady), but if there you are surveying general managers in the NBA for shrewdness, Morey immediately comes to mind. Morey is a man who has extracted maximum value from every single deal he has signed. He has extracted value through trading bad deals (Ariza), snagging a player who outplays his initial offer (Lowry), or capturing value by honoring loyalty (Brooks and Garcia). The one thing Morey has not done is bite on a bad deal or over pay a single player. Tellem may be an excellent negotiator but the majority of the deals Tellem has garnered for his clients came under a few choice circumstances. Pau Gasol landed his massive extension with the Lakers when he was acquired per their attempts to placate Kobe Bryant. LaMarcus Aldridge's extension was a no-brainer for a rising Portland Trailblazers team at the time. Tiago Splitter's deal was one the Spurs actually came out ahead on (By preserving their one-time five year extension and only giving Splitter four). Ultimately, Tellem can be reigned in by savvy front offices. One area remains, however, cause for potential concern amongst Rockets fans.
If an injury hits Omer Asik then Rockets fans need to be leery. Why? Derrick Rose, Tracy McGrady, and Jermaine O'Neal. What do these players have in common? Well, when hit with major injuries they missed extreme amounts of time and, arguably, preserved their own value rather than heeding the advice of doctors regarding their potential return dates. Asik has already started the season moping and absent a few games due to a hip injury. Asik's value is a definite in the NBA and his situation is known not to be the ideal. Ultimately, if Asik gets hit with an injury and it takes a little longer than you'd expect before he returns, then it won't ultimately hurt his value. Any team looking to acquire Asik will expect a physical that would reveal whether or not he was healthy or hindered.
So, you may be asking why I wasted your time reading over a thousand words. That is simple: I wanted to tell you that Asik's hiring of Arn Tellem only indicates that he's keeping an eye towards his free agency and that Asik realizes that his public relations have taken a beating. Tellem hasn't had the opportunity to negotiate with the Houston Rockets on a free agent signing or extension under the new collective bargaining agreement. Front offices that are similar to that of the Rockets have shown they can easily reign in Tellem's negotiation skills (See: Spurs extension of Splitter). If Asik gets injured again don't expect him to be back in short order now that Tellem represents him.