The Impact of the Asik Deal

Moving Asik was just the first step - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the cap situation and depth chart in Houston after Omer Asik is sent to the Pelicans. Just how close are they to Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James after the deal? How much more work needs to happen before they are able to sign one of them?

The Houston Rockets traded Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans. Speculation that Asik would wind up in New Orleans began as early as last year but it was always predicated on returning Ryan Anderson to Houston. The proposed trade involves a protected first round pick in the 2015 draft (The Pelicans 2014 pick belongs to the 76ers). The pick carries "reverse Lowry" protection. If the pick is in the top 2/3 of the lottery or 20 and higher then the Pelicans keep the pick.

The trade clears 8.3 million dollars off the books and acquits Leslie Alexander of paying off 15 million dollars to Asik. This brings the Rockets total cap to 50.849 million dollars.  That number is figured by removing any cap hit for Chandler Parsons (Since his option was declined). The projected NBA salary cap is 63.2 million dollars. The Rockets are now left with 12.359 million dollars in salary cap space. That's still not enough for Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony and this clears out the cupboard of assets to make a run t either. Let's look at the depth chart post-Asik.

Position

Name

Backup

Third-String

Point Guard

Patrick Beverley

Jeremy Lin

Isaiah Cannan

Shooting Guard

James Harden

Jordan Hamilton

Troy Daniels

Small Forward

Robert Covington

Omri Casspi

Power Forward

Terrence Jones

Donatas Motiejunas

Center

Dwight Howard

Omer Asik's presence in New Orleans next to Anthony Davis sets up a twin towers offense/defense similar to what Houston hoped for with Howard and Asik this past season. Now, up to four times a year, the Rockets will have to deal with two defensive forces where the Rockets are their strongest. The trade amped up their level of competition within their own division without offsetting anything yet. Make no mistake, Morey is not done yet and any attempt to grade the trade is premature.

Should the Rockets fail to sign Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James they have more than enough space to re-sign Chandler Parsons (or match) and fill in back up players. If the Rockets manage to jettison Jeremy Lin their cap space bumps up to 20.6 million a year. Under league rules, a player with 10 years of experience is eligible for 35% of the salary cap or 105% of their current salary. That works out to 22.12 million a year for Lebron and 22.56 a year for Carmelo Anthony.

It's definitely splitting hairs but in a very firm dollars and cents analysis, the Rockets can't afford a maximum contract to either player. With the opportunity to compete for a title (If a backup center is acquired), the Rockets can easily get a discount on the free agency market. Angling for big fish in free agency officially started yesterday with Houston firing the first shots. No credit to Dallas for putting together a mystifying and horrible trade that made them "viable."

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