Lowe On Asik, Bobcats, Hibbert, Thunder

With two days remaining until most NBA players become trade-eligible and less than a week until the Rockets‘ self-imposed deadline for an Omer Asik trade, rumors about Houston’s backup center are heating up. We’ve already heard multiple reports on Asik today, and the latest piece from Grantland’s Zach Lowe also focuses on the 27-year-old. Here are Lowe’s updates on Asik and a couple other related topics:

  • Lowe echoes what TNT’s David Aldridge and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein have already reported today: By all accounts, the Rockets intend to adhere to that December 19th deadline and move Asik by then.
  • Asik’s third-year balloon payment has been a “meaningful obstacle” in trade talks, even though his cap hit will be nearly $7MM less than his actual salary. The Pelicans have never been all that interested in trading Ryan Anderson for Asik, but that $15MM salary for 2014/15 was an additional deterrent for New Orleans, according to Lowe.
  • A report earlier in December suggested the Rockets had asked a team for two first-rounders for Asik, but Lowe suggests Houston had been seeking an even greater return. According to Lowe, the Rockets asked the Bobcats for two first-rounders and the right to swap first-round picks in a third draft.
  • Lowe reports that, among potential suitors, there are some concerns about Asik’s attitude and about the fact that GM Daryl Morey is trying to subvert the spirit of CBA rules by moving Asik before his third-year “poison pill” kicks in. However, neither factor should be the difference in whether or not Houston finds a taker.
  • In discussing Asik’s trade value, Lowe notes that advanced metrics and analytics have resulted in defensive specialists like Asik, Derrick Favors, Larry Sanders, and Roy Hibbert becoming more properly valued by teams around the NBA. Analytics-oriented sources who have spoken to Lowe generally agree that Hibbert is significantly undervalued at $14.5MM annually, suggesting that his contributions are worth more like $25-30MM per year.
  • If they haven’t already, expect the Thunder to start putting out feelers for what the return would be if they paired Kendrick Perkins with Jeremy Lamb or a first-round pick, says Lowe. That doesn’t mean OKC will make a move, but it sounds like the team wants to get an idea of how much a first-round pick (or a first-round talent like Lamb) would be worth when combined with a negative asset like Perkins, considering how carefully teams are hoarding first-rounders.
  • It’s not clear whether the Thunder have much interest in Asik, but even if they do, Lowe confirms Houston would rather deal with an Eastern Conference team, as we’ve heard before.

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