First, judging by some of your response tweets, I realized I was unclear on something. When I say that “it was previously believed that Asik had to be traded this season,” I wasn’t referring to any media reports or the report that he would be dealt by the 19th. I was referring to the thought process that myself and other close observers of this team held since this summer that if the Rockets planned on dealing Asik, it would need to be this year so that the receiving team could spread out its costs. (This is because while Asik’s cap hit is roughly $8million, he, like Jeremy Lin, is actually owed $5million this year and $15million next year. Thus, I believed that any team acquiring Asik this year could justify the $15million payment if getting his services for two years; if they were only getting one year at $15million, they would balk, I and a few others assumed.) But Zach Lowe is reporting that several teams are balking altogether at the prospect of paying the balloon payment, even if acquiring Asik right now. By my previous train of thought, that would eliminate the urgency to deal Asik.
The reports though are that the team is intent on dealing the center by the end of this week. I’m not sure I buy it. As I said in my post earlier today, it’s not as if he will sit out the entire season. Despite the tantrum, if a deal isn’t made, I’m confident that Omer will pull his panties out of the wad in which they currently sit and get back on the court. Those backup center contributions are a lot more attractive than whatever production Thad Young could bring, in my humble opinion.
But let’s assume that this isn’t a smokescreen and Omer truly will be dealt. Millsap has to be at the top of the list, even though I’d rather just keep Omer. But what I think we’ll see is some combination of picks…which might precisely be why this recent swirl of Jeremy Lin rumors have made their way into the air. If Houston feels the best course is to unload Asik for just picks, it only makes sense to go the whole way and attempt to clear out Lin as well. That would give the Rockets an extra $16million of wiggle room this summer, which, while not enough for a true-max, is some serious flexibility to make an addition. I mentioned Kyle Lowry as an intriguing possibility in some sort of three-way maneuver because his abilities suffice to serve as a placeholder for the team’s hopes this season until it could clear his contract off the books in the summer. Several of you cited his quarrels with Kevin McHale in dismissing that notion but I’d respond: do you really think Morey would allow pettiness such as that to stand as an obstacle to max-level flexibility? No.
Lastly, Carmelo Anthony: I don’t think the Knicks would forfeit their delusions of making that trainwreck of a roster work. But if they made Anthony available, I do honestly believe Daryl Morey would pursue. Adding Anthony to this lineup would give James Harden and Dwight Howard more room than either could ever imagine and would give Houston a viable inside threat. (For all his flashes, I don’t trust Howard enough to give him touches in the post down the stretch.) Anthony also, of course, is about as ‘stretchy’ of a ‘stretch 4’ that you could ever hope to find.
I don’t think Asik will be moved. If he is, I think it will be for picks. I don’t know what will happen. But I would be shocked if the return is Thaddeus Young. He wouldn’t bring much of a new dynamic to the team nor can he be viewed as much of a liquid asset; those remaining three years on his deal also seem prohibitive. Stay tuned.