The Rockets prefer to trade Omer Asik to an Eastern Conference team, and the Sixers, Hawks and Bucks are three clubs that appear to be strong candidates to land the 7’0″ center, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Portland had seemed to be an aggressive suitor based on the team’s reported discussions with Houston, but the Trail Blazers are enamored with what Robin Lopez has given them, and they aren’t planning to make a run at Asik, Stein writes.
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was with the Rockets front office when they signed Asik in 2012, and his affinity for the 27-year-old from Turkey is one reason Stein believes many around the league are mentioning Philadelphia as a viable destination for Asik. Sixers power forward Thaddeus Young could fit together with Dwight Howard, Stein points out, adding that Philly isn’t likely to be able to find a player like Asik in the 2014 draft.
The Bucks are about to start looking for trades in the wake of a disappointing 4-16 start, Stein hears, concluding that Milwaukee could be Asik’s next home. That would seem to suggest the Bucks would be willing to trade Larry Sanders, whom they signed to a four-year, $44MM extension this past offseason, but that’s just my speculation.
Houston is no doubt one of many teams eyeing Paul Millsap‘s two-year, $19MM contract as an attractive bargain, so Stein figures the Rockets and Hawks could hook up on an Asik trade. Grantland’s Zach Lowe discussed the possibility of such a swap a few weeks ago, writing that it would work well for both teams and that Hawks GM Danny Ferry might take flak from Western Conference executives for giving such a significant boost to the contending Rockets.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey is also concerned about strengthening his Western Conference competitors, and that’s why he wants to send Asik to the East. Stein doesn’t think Morey will be doctrinaire about the idea, but the ESPN scribe points out that Asik is just the sort of defensive force who could cause Dwight Howard trouble in the playoffs.