Yes Omer, YOU!
December 19th came and gone without any Rockets transaction. After days and weeks of rumors that Asik would be traded, he remains in
Rocket-red a suit on the bench. Whether it was the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Atlanta Hawks, we all thought Asik would be gone if the price was right. Well, Mr. Daryl “I’m the best GM in the NBA” Morey decided the value wasn’t quite right and now Asik remains with the Rockets.
The problem now isn’t Asik’s play, but rather his not playing. According to Jonathan Feigen (Houston Chronicle), every time Asik seems to be nearing a return, the swelling in his keen returns. Here’s what Kevin McHale had to say:
He had some swelling again in his knee. It seems like he amps it up to a certain level and it swells up again. They’re still trying to figure out what’s causing that swelling when he gets up to a certain level of activity. They MRI, they sent it out again for certain people to look at again. His symptoms are not going the way the doctors think they should be.
The need for a backup center has been displayed over-and-over again, especially with Greg Smith missing games as well. Last night was no different with Dwight Howard in early foul trouble and the Rockets facing both Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufus. The Rockets were getting destroyed on the glass and they were forced to go with Donatas Motiejunas in hopes of finding a spark. Motiejunas was a huge part of last night’s win, but we can’t expect that type of play from him on a nightly basis. The Rockets need a backup center, whether it’s Asik or someone else.
When the trade deadline comes, I expect the Rockets to “rid” themselves of Asik. Teams will have a better sense of their future come February and I’m sure plenty of teams will be calling for Asik. The 27-year old is owed just $5 million this season, but his contract balloons to $15 million in 2014. An elite rebounder and defender is worth 2-year at $10 million a piece, something that Morey is trying to get in the heads of other general managers.
The Rockets were likely looking for three of four things in trade talks; A stretch power forward, another wing player (defense/3-point shooting), a backup center, and a draft pick. However, I believe this Rockets will now be looking for just two of the three following the play of Terrence Jones. Jones has now put up consecutive 20-point games and looks to be coming into his own lately. The 21-year old has shown the ability to stretch the floor and run the court, two qualities Morey has been looking at the power forward spot.
If the Rockets trade Asik, backup center is their first priority. Based on previous teams and names mentioned, I believe the best option is Spencer Hawes. Hawes would be a perfect fit in Houston for many reasons. He’s a center, listed at 7″1, who can stretch the floor and grab rebounds. For the season, the 25-year old is averaging 15 ppg and 9 rpg while shooting 43.3% from beyond the arc. Hawes would give the Rockets much flexibility with their lineup, and they could slide him into the starting lineup if Jones struggles.
If the Rockets trade for Hawes, they could likely get another piece or two in return as well. A draft pick is something Morey covets in almost every deal and it’s certainly a reasonable request here. The Rockets could also look for a third team to acquire a wing player. The Sixer’s own Evan Turner has been a name that is possibly available and if the Rockets don’t like him, they could ship him elsewhere for another player or pick.
Hawes plus a player/pick would be perfect for the Rockets. This is Hawes’ final year on contract and is owed just $6.5 million this season. Trading for Hawes gives them the backup center and shooter they were looking for, a contract that comes off the books this season, AND potentially more value in return. IF the Rockets choose to trade Asik, I’d like to see a deal with the 76ers centered (no pun intended) around Hawes.