Jan 3, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT
Last month the Houston Rockets created a pseudo self-imposed deadline in an effort to jump-start trade talks for big man Omer Asik. Before you scoff at the idea, remember that trades and pretty much everything else business related in the NBA doesn’t get done until there is some kind of deadline pressure to make a deal, so why not try to create your own deadline?
Still didn’t work. Houston couldn’t get an offer they liked so they pulled back and kept Asik. They’d play him, but he currently remains out with a bruised right thigh.
While they will listen to offers, don’t be surprised if the Rockets keep him past the Feb. 20 trade deadline, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
Now, Houston is caught in a bit of a no-man’s land. “Teams that are tanking don’t want him to make them better and winning teams want to steal him,” one rival GM said. Plus, teams with room in 2015, when Asik will be a free agent, can sign him anyway – to a more reasonable contract. Asik’s deal, which balloons to a $15 million cash payout next season, becomes more of a trade impediment the closer it gets to the deadline. A new team acquiring Asik before Dec. 15 would’ve owed him an average salary of $10.5 million over two years. At next month’s deadline, with more of his cheaper $8.4 million salary absorbed by the Rockets, that figure would jump to about $12.5 million.
First, if you were trying to create leverage in a trade this is what you would say. Keep that in mind.
To another point however, this is how tanking has really impacted the NBA trade market — in a lot of years there might be teams willing to take on Asik or Pau Gasol or other guys as a way to win some games. In the East, get on a little win streak (and I mean little) and you can make the playoffs. But with this coming draft teams don’t want to do that.
Still, don’t be shocked if the Asik dynamic changes. There are just not that many quality centers out there and plenty of teams that could use one. As the deadline nears teams are going to be more tempted, even at a healthy price, to maybe give him a shot.
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