The Rockets are moving away from trade talks involving Omer Asik and won’t move him today, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein (via Twitter). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports echoes that report, tweeting that the Rockets intend to hang on to Asik for now. Wojnarowski also tweets that Houston has informed agent Arn Tellem that trade talks involving his client have ended.
Houston figures to revisit trade discussions, if not this week, then at least before the NBA’s actual trade deadline on February 20th. However, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that many teams are leery of Asik’s 2014/15 balloon payment of $15MM, while Stein adds (via Twitter) that there’s a growing pessimism within the Rockets that they’ll find a trade partner.
The Rockets’ self-imposed deadline of December 19th for an Asik trade was intended to give the team the flexibility to flip players in a second deal at the trade deadline in February. However, as I explained in a piece today, there are multiple ways to circumvent the rule that restricts over-the-cap teams from trading a player within two months of acquiring him. The Rockets could theoretically complete an Asik swap in January or February and still flip any players acquired in those deals prior to the February 20th deadline, as long as the trades met certain criteria.
Before the Rockets shut down trade negotiations involving Asik, the Celtics and Sixers appeared to be the strongest contenders to land the 27-year-old. Boston was reportedly prepared to offer Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and a first-round pick, though the club was reluctant to make that first-rounder a 2014 pick. As for the Sixers, the Rockets were said to be targeting Spencer Hawes and a first-round pick, but there was no indication Philadelphia would have been agreeable to that package. In addition to those two clubs, the Bucks, Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans were among the other teams linked to Asik within the last week. None of those teams seemed seriously in the mix as of this morning.
Although waiting until the new year to deal Asik could regain some leverage for the Rockets, there’s no guarantee of that. The seven-footer hasn’t been in the lineup recently, so his play on the court certainly hasn’t been improving his stock. Additionally, while his $15MM salary for next season is off-putting, it was somewhat balanced by the fact that he’s only earning about $5.23MM this year, despite cap hits of about $8.37MM in both years. The earlier a team acquires him, the more value that club would receive out of Asik’s reduced 2013/14 salary.