There was a bit of internal drama with the Rockets this season, and it began with the team’s offseason acquisition of Dwight Howard in free agency.
In a nice change of pace, Howard wasn’t the cause of it this time. But his presence didn’t sit well with the team’s resident big man Omer Asik, who immediately feared a diminished role was in his future with a player of Howard’s magnitude now in place, and rightfully ahead of him on the team’s depth chart in terms of minutes distribution.
Asik immediately asked to be dealt, but Houston is smarter than that. The team wasn’t going to let a talent like Asik go for below market value, and given the fact that the Rockets issued a self-imposed deadline for when they’d like a deal to get done, the offers that came in were predictably unacceptable.
So, what now? According to Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Asik is likely to be with the team not just through the end of this season, but through the end of his current contract, which would mean an additional year in Houston.
From Ben DuBose of ClutchFans.net (via HoopsHype):
“We pushed to trade Omer in December,” said Morey. “We felt we had to make a fair and aggressive effort to do that. Obviously, he’d prefer to be a starter.
“At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract at the end of next season, not this season. The window to trade him was [in December], and teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future.”
Asik is under contract at $8.3 million per year for this one and the next — not exactly an inexpensive number, but below what productive NBA big men get paid, which is typically in the $11 million-plus range per season.
Asik hasn’t played since Dec. 2 and is still dealing with a knee injury, but Houston is targeting the end of the month for his return. While the team’s tone has wisely changed now surrounding Asik, if he performs well once he’s back, his value could increase and the Rockets will have plenty of opportunities at the trade deadline and in the days leading up to the draft to trade him at that time — if a deal came along that actually made some sense.