10:53pm: The pick is protected so that it will only convey to the Rockets next year if it falls between the No. 4 and 20 selections, tweets Feigen.
9:25pm: The Rockets have a deal in place to send Omer Asik to the Pelicans, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Pelicans will send a protected 2015 first round pick to Houston, who is moving Asik to clear cap space in pursuit of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (all Twitter links). Sam Amick of USA Today first reported that Houston will also send cash to New Orleans as part of the deal, and Windhorst reports that the amount is $1.5MM (via Twitter).
The Rockets were reported to have deals in place for both Asik and Jeremy Lin, so this is not a shocking development. While a source tells Amick that Lin won’t be moved until the Rockets have a marquee free agent lined up to sign, Asik’s overlapping skill set with starter Dwight Howard makes him a less risky player to part with preemptively. The Turkish big man was shopped by the Rockets last season, but the balloon payment on the upcoming final year of his contract cooled teams from acquiring the elite defender. Of course, Houston was interested in getting back a player to help in their playoff run at the time, which wasn’t a factor in this trade.
The pick from New Orleans has layers of protection, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen says it will likely end up going to the Rockets in the late lottery or as high as No. 20 next year, depending on the Pelicans’ regular season performance. Since New Orleans doesn’t own its 2014 first round pick, the trade would need to be finalized following tomorrow’s draft since teams are prohibited from being without a first round pick in two consecutive seasons.
Amick reports that the teams plan to make the deal official in July, suggesting after the July moratorium, when New Orleans would presumably send back contracts to match the roughly $8.4MM cap hit that accompanies Asik. Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times notes that the nonguaranteed contracts on New Orleans’ roster would not equal enough in salary to match Asik’s number and stay under the cap for a valid trade. The Pelicans will have to clear more salary in advance of finalizing the deal, since it would be self-defeating for Houston to take back significant salary as part of the deal (Twitter links).