How Omer Asik’s Backloaded Deal Affects Trades

The Rockets have reportedly engaged other teams in trade talks about Omer Asik, and even though a trade doesn’t appear to be imminent, his name figures to surface quite often in rumors this season. The pairing of Asik and Dwight Howard together on the court hasn’t been successful so far, and relegating Asik to playing backup to a superstar who’ll likely average around 36 minutes a game seems a waste when the Rockets have needs at other positions.

Asik is on Houston’s books for $8,374,646 this year and next — not at all an inflated amount for a top-shelf interior defender. The problem is that his actual salaries are quite different from his cap hits, thanks to the terms of the Gilbert Arenas Provision which the Rockets used to snatch him from the Bulls in 2012. Houston backloaded Asik’s contract to dissuade Chicago from matching the offer for the restricted free agent. The Arenas rule allowed the Rockets to spread the cap hit for the steep third-season raise in Asik’s deal over all three years of the contract. If the Bulls matched, Chicago would have had to carry cap hits that reflected each season’s actual payout. Asik is pocketing just $5.225MM this season, but he gets $14,898,938 in 2014/15.

Next season’s actual salary will likely put Asik among the top 25 highest-paid players in the league, even though his cap hit will be significantly less, regardless of whether he’s playing for the Rockets or another NBA team. Some owners might welcome the chance to acquire a player with a reasonable salary cap hit even though the actual payout is much more expensive, but, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe has written, many are wary taking on the balloon payment for either Asik or Jeremy Lin, who has a contract with precisely the same terms.

Asik doesn’t have the resume of a top-25 player, but he nonetheless had a drastic effect on Houston’s defense last season. The Rockets gave up 107.0 points per 100 possessions when he was on the bench in 2012/13, but just 101.3 when he was playing, per His actual pay next season will be exactly the amount of money former All-Star Roy Hibbert will earn with the Pacers in 2014/15. Hibbert’s superior block totals from last year indicate that he’s better at basket protection, and he averaged more points per game. Still, Asik took far fewer shots and was much more accurate, and he outrebounded Hibbert by 3.4 boards per game in similar minutes. Asik might not be a top-25 player in the NBA, but his statistical record holds it own against that of a player the small-market Pacers were willing to pay at an elite level.

The 27-year-old from Turkey might be worth a salary at or near the one he’ll see next season, but he won’t be quite the bargain his cap hit for 2014/15 would suggest. Teams will consider any trade for Asik knowing he’s due for a nearly 300% raise. Acquiring him and his $5.225MM salary this year would help ease that burden, but it still works out to an average annual value of around $10MM for whatever team is willing to trade for him, much more than his cap hit will be in either season. It will be interesting to see if a team with financial muscle but limited cap flexibility takes advantage of his reduced cap number, or if a low-revenue team swallows hard and prepares for a nearly $15MM payout next year.

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14 thoughts on “How Omer Asik’s Backloaded Deal Affects Trades

  1. This Author is a bonehead idiot. Nor did he check his math with those numbers. Asik is making 25 millions for 3 years. For the Rockets, it’s divided evenly at 8.3.

    So, 8.3 × 3 (years) = 24.9 millions

    He’s making 8.3 this year and next. The 15 millions balloon payment at the end of his contract would only be in effect IF the BULLS HAD MATCHED THE OFFER SHEET. Since they didn’t, the Rockets spread the payment out evenly at 8.3. In the 3rd and final year, the Rockets DO NOT pay 15 millions. The cap hit is only 8.3.

    If he is traded, the new team WILL ALSO PAY 8.3. for this year and next. Not, 15 millions. I don’t know why this is difficult for people to understand. It’s as if these Northern NBA teams trying to scare potential teams from trading for Asik just to make it difficult for the Rockets to get equal value back.

    Asik is worth every bit of his contract. He’s easily a double-double machine, durable (played all 82 games last season) and an elite defender. I would go as far and say he’s a more skilled shot-blocker than Howard in that he can block shots 2 and 3 times in one possession whereas Howard, would block a shot and be out of
    position to attempt a 2nd block in the same possession.

    • HoopsRumors

      You’re confusing cap hit with actual salary. As the article states, the Rockets were able to spread out Asik’s annual cap hit evenly because the Bulls didn’t match the offer sheet, but those cap hits aren’t equal to the salaries he’s actually earning.

      If the Bulls had matched the offer sheet, Asik’s cap hit and salary in 2014/15 would both be $14.9MM. Since they didn’t match, his cap hit is about $8.3MM, but his salary WILL STILL BE $14.9MM. The smaller cap hit makes him easier to trade, but the larger salary will be something teams still have to take into account. As this article states.

      — Luke

      • Dude, do you read the stuff you say?? I should know. I live in Houston and a diehard Rocket fan. Cap Hit and Actual Salary goes hand-in-hand. Asik doesn’t get an “annual cap hit” —–what are you talking about??

        The 8.3 is what he earns as a salary this year.

        The deal is set-up as: 1st Year: 5.2 mil, 2nd Year 5.2 mil, 3rd Year 14.6 mil. That’s the deal, dude.

        The cap hit, however (on the books), is 1st Year 8.3, 2nd Year 8.3, 3rd Year 8.3. This is the way it’s paid out..

        When you look at the Deal, that’s the way it was structured TO THE BULLS. The Bulls looked at that 3rd year and barked. So, since they didn’t match it, the Rockets will do the SAME DEAL but rearrange the payments, flexible on their terms. Understand?

        The whole point was to thwart the Bulls from matching. Since the Rockets was successful in doing that, they don’t have to pay according to the way it was structured in the Original Deal. Only the Bulls would have to had pay that 15 mil in the 3rd year.

        The Rockets are paying 8.3, evenly. In the 3rd year, Asik IS NOT GETTING 14.9 millions, dude. Like I said, you don’t know what you talking about and didn’t do the math right. Hope this helps. He’s getting 8.3 in that 3rd year. Period.

          • Luke,This is my last comment to you dude. The first article you cited explained the same “understanding” I just explained to you. The question is, did you read the article through??All that matters is the cap hit, because that’s what’s actually being paid out by the team. Cap Hit and Salary goes hand-in-hand as I explained to you.The article said the salary is split evenly at 8.3 for three years. This is Asik’s 2nd year with the Rockets. If he got paid, according to the way it is on the book at 8.3, how can he be due 14.9 millions in the 3rd year???

            That would mean he gets paid as followed:

            8.3 Year 1….8.3 Year 2….14.9 Year 3.

            That’s a total of 31.5 millions for 3 years. Doesn’t match the 25 million for 3 years.

            Again, as I explained to you, the Original Deal at:

            5.2 / 5.2/ 14.6…only applied to Bulls.

            Since they did not match it, you can now, throw that whole
            payment schedule out the window because the Rockets
            aren’t paying that. It was only set-up that way to thwart the Bulls from matching.

            The Rockets are on schedule for 8.3 millions this year and 8.3 millions next year which is the final year of his 25 million dollars contract.

            If you show all three of my posts to experts you deem credible, I assure you they will agree with my explanation. Again, Asik is paid:8.3/ 8.3/ 8.3………there is no 14.9 million dollars payout in the 3rd year.

            • HoopsRumors

              When you say “All that matters is the cap hit, because that’s what’s actually being paid out by the team. Cap Hit and Salary goes hand-in-hand,” this is directly contradicted in Deeks’ article, right here:

              “”Salary” and “cap number” are usually assumed to be synonymous with each other on account of the fact that they normally are, with rare exceptions…. These deals (Lin’s and Asik’s), then, are an exception. And that’s why they need clarifying.”

              He adds, more specifically:

              “From now (2013) until the date the contracts expire, Lin and Asik will have cap numbers of $8,374,646 in each season, along with being paid $5.225 million this season and $14,898,938 next.”

              Larry Coon says the same thing (here: link to

              “If the offer sheet is $5M, $5M and $14M, then the player makes this actual salary no matter which team he ends up with.”

              This will be my last reply as well, since neither of us seems to be making any progress here. My point (and the point of this whole article) is that, even though “cap hit” and “actual salary” are the same thing 99% of the time, this is one very rare instance where they’re NOT the same.

              — Luke

              • Wow man, just do the math. Use your common sense. How can a 25 million dollars contract for 3 years be paid out at 8.3 each years PLUS 5.2 this year? That means Asik is paid as followed:

                8.3 Year 1…..8.3 and 5.2 Year 2……and then, 8.3 and 14.9 Year 3.

                That’s a total of 45.1 millions for 3 years, dude.

                Just do the math. And Coon’s said, “if” the payment is paid out as 5/5/14. So, he isn’t so sure, which is why I didn’t include his article here. Meeks got the general understanding of the deal which is why I cited it.

                However, the math does not add up if Asik is getting 5.2 this year AND 8.3 each year for 3 years. That makes absolutely no sense. All it takes is a basic understanding of math and what the “Poison Pill” means and aim to do.

                • gamboooler

                  I don’t know why this is so hard for you to understand. His salary is 5/5/15. His cap hit is 8.3 across the board. You keep saying the math doesn’t add up, and that’s because you are incorrectly assuming he was paid 8.3 his first year.

                  Here is a link to the breakdown: link to

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