Report: Rockets confident they can trade Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik

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From the moment the Rockets signed Dwight Howard until the trade deadline, the Omer Asik trade saga went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and… You get the idea.

But through all the rumors and reports and discussions, Houston never found an acceptable deal.

Though Jeremy Lin didn’t come up in trade talks as often, there were at least a couple inquiries. No deal for him either.

If the Rockets have their eyes on LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love or any other star who might – but probably won’t – be available this offseason, trading Asik and/or Lin is the simplest way to facilitate it.

Can Houston trade those two?

Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets:

According to an individual familiar with the Rockets’ plans, they are confident they would be able to move Lin and Asik’s contracts because unlike their failed efforts to trade Asik last season, they would be looking to clear cap room, rather than bring back rotation players with similar contracts .

Not asking for assets in return for Asik and Lin will help – there was a lot of grumbling about Houston’s asking price for Asik – but that might not be enough. Asik and Lin will each get paid $14,898,938 next season – a tough pill for a team to swallow if trading for them, even though their cap numbers ($8,374,646 each) are fairly reasonable.

Making the task tougher, Houston might have to narrow their pool of trade partners specifically to the team on the other end of a sign-and-trade. If they were focused on maximizing cap space this summer by trading Asik and Lin to any team that will take them, the Rockets wouldn’t decline Chandler Parsons’ team option. By doing that, they’re raising Parsons’ cap number from $964,750 to $2,875,130 when free agency begins – and it will only go up from there once Parsons signs.

Simply, Houston is not close to gaining enough cap space to sign one of its coveted stars. By declining Parsons’ option, the Rockets are moving even further from that goal.

Even if they trade Asik and Lin and take back no additional salary, they’d be projected to have just $14,321,273 in cap room. By comparison, here are the maximum starting salaries for their top target if each becomes a free agent this offseason:

  • LeBron: $20,659,633
  • Bosh: $20,659,633
  • Melo: $22,458,402
  • Nowitzki: $23,857,450

Unless the Rockets are aiming lower in the free-agent pool or have more up their sleeves – both of which are certainly possible – they’re not really gaining ground by trading Asik and Lin.

Unless it’s a sign-and-trade with Lin and Asik going out, which would allow the Rockets to take back a player with a higher salary than they could get with the aforementioned cap-room route. But the other team would have to accept paying Asik and nearly $15 million each next year. And we’re back to square one, where trading them in a worthwhile deal won’t be easy.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.