Jul 2, 2012, 3:30 AM EDT
The Rockets have been looking for a center to hang their hat on since Yao Ming retired. On Sunday, they came to terms with a player they hope will at least do the job for a little bit.
Asik is the perfect free agent for fans and pundits to debate. Low-minutes, high production, defensive-minded, big man in a smallball world free agent center who a contender (the Bulls) hold the rights to match to. Maybe most interesting is that Asik falls under the Arenas rule for contracts. So if the Bulls match, it’s under a $5 million – $5 million-$15 million distribution over three years. If they don’t, the Rockets get him for just over $8 million a year.
It’s easy to claim that Asik is overpaid, due to his low points production. He’s not a scorer. He plays limited minutes, and can pick up fouls and lose energy quickly. But he’s also one of the best defensive centers in the league if you look at him from an advanced metrics standpoint. No surprise that would interest Daryl Morey. Asik was in the 96th percentile in points allowed per possession this season, and in the 77th percentile in the post, playing heavy minutes. He’s a legit seven-footer who rotates well.
But was it Thibdoeau’s system in Chicago that enabled him to play that well defensively, or his own talents? The answer is a bit of both. But there’s no reason that with the right system, he can’t duplicate that production in Houston. And while the league has shifted towards a smallball approach, having a legit big man is still a huge advantage.
For the Bulls, the pricetag may be too steep. Even if they were to amnesty Carlos Boozer, in 2015 the Bulls would be on the books for a huge amount of money. They may have to let Asik head out to have room for other decisions.
Whether you consider Asik to be overpaid or a value deal, the Rockets have a center. Which would make you think that it’s possible they may be heading away from the plan to acquire Dwight Howard. For now, the Rockets continue to stockpile quality players and prompting discussion.
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