Rockets Still Plan To Trade Asik Next Week

December 13 2013 at 7:50pm CDT By Luke Adams

7:50pm: The Cavs could get involved in an Asik deal if the Rockets need a third team to facilitate a trade, Lloyd writes, adding that it’s not clear what the Cavs would ask for in that scenario. Executives around the league believe the Rockets already have an Asik trade in place, and that GM Daryl Morey and company are seeing if they can find a better offer before they commit to a deal, tweets USA Today’s Sam Amick.

5:27pm: The Cavs don’t have interest in Asik, tweets Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lloyd doesn’t say for certain whether Houston’s demands of more than just Anderson Varejao have put Cleveland off, or if Asik never intrigued the Cavs that much in the first place.

9:53am: Following up on Aldridge’s report, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein says that while the Rockets have had interest in Varejao in previous years, they wouldn’t be inclined to move Asik straight-up for him. As for the Cavs, it’s not clear whether they’d be willing to include additional assets in a swap, particularly since Cleveland would still rather acquire a small forward than a center.

Stein adds that league insiders continue to believe Paul Millsap is Houston’s top target, but as we heard already today, the Hawks don’t seem overly enthusiastic about moving him.

8:36am: A report last week suggested that the Rockets intended to move Omer Asik by December 19th, and the team still appears to be aiming for that self-imposed deadline. TNT’s David Aldridge reports (via Twitter) that the Rockets will trade Asik by Wednesday or Thursday of next week, adding that the Cavaliers should not be discounted, since Anderson Varejao would be a fit in Houston.

December 19th is significant because it gives the team a two-month cushion before this season’s February 20th deadline. Over-the-cap clubs like the Rockets are prohibited from including a recently-acquired player in a trade package within two months of acquiring him, so completing a deal by next Thursday would give Houston the flexibility to flip pieces acquired for Asik at the deadline.

As for Aldridge’s assertion that the Cavs are worth keeping an eye on, Varejao would probably mesh nicely with Dwight Howard in Houston, but I’m not sure it would make sense for Cleveland to pair Asik with Andrew Bynum. Additionally, while Varejao’s cap hit for next season is slightly larger than Asik’s, only $4MM of Varejao’s 2014/15 salary is guaranteed, whereas Asik will be owed a balloon payment of about $15MM. Up until this point, the Cavs have maintained enough 2014 cap space to make a run at a maximum-salary player like LeBron James, so it’s not clear if the team is willing to give up that flexibility.

Whether or not the Cavs are a serious suitor for Asik, it seems as if the Rockets should have plenty of options. The Pelicans, Hawks, Bucks, Celtics, Mavericks, and Sixers are among the other clubs who have been mentioned as potential fits at some point, though some of those destinations look more viable than others. Houston is said to be seeking a quality forward and/or first-round picks in any deal.

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