The rumors are swirling at a frantic pace, with some of the most credible names in the industry serving up tasteful morsels. As always, required reading from the great Zach Lowe on Omer Asik’s market value. As for the others, I’m not going to bother including links because if you’re reading me, you’re likely die-hard enough to have already seen/heard the other rumors on your own. But a quick rundown: Marc Stein started the whole thing off by reporting that the Rockets would deal Asik by the 19th; we had David Aldridge suggesting the possibility of Anderson Verejao on-air on TNT; Sam Amick has stated that the Pelicans and Bucks (Ryan Anderson, Ilyasova) have both purportedly pulled themselves out of the mix; and finally Amick again reporting rival executive collective belief that the Rockets already have a deal in place with the Sixers. Other news involves the Suns’ reported willingness to deal draft picks and ESPN’s Alan Hahn dropping the bombshell that many around the league believe the Rockets will deal Jeremy Lin if they can find a taker.
I’ve repeatedly been saying that I don’t think a deal will be made despite the reports. I just have a very hard time seeing Morey agreeing to take back fifty cents on the dollar and allowing an artificial deadline to rule the day. This was the second best player on a playoff team last season of whom we are speaking. Thad Young just doesn’t make sense, especially with Terrence Jones looking comfortable. And here’s another thing regarding which I want you to think closely: the Lowe article I cited states that opposing GM’s, while aware and in agreement of Asik’s value, are balking at paying Asik the balloon real-dollar payment he is owed next season. The premise all along has been Asik needed to be traded this year for that very reason. Well if they already are balking, then does it really even matter? It’s not like his value is going to go down even further then if you don’t trade him this year. The thinking was that you had to trade him this year so that the other team could at least reap some of the rewards of the reduced obligation from this season. If Lowe’s report is correct, that flies out the window.
So let’s say they don’t deal Asik. You really think he’s just going to sit out the whole year? I highly doubt that. He’ll get back on the court, and while he won’t recover the value he held last season, said value won’t depreciate further. And his contributions will mean more to this team than those of someone like Thad Young. The Rockets can then reassess things in the summer when more teams are willing to deal and perhaps include Jeremy Lin in a package.
So yeah, I just don’t see it. You simply cannot convince me that Daryl Morey would allow some circumstances beyond his control to guide his hand. That’s just not his thing and has never been his thing.
If they do make a deal, I think it will be for picks, perhaps to the Bobcats per the discussions Lowe mentioned. And you’ll also see some sort of unexpected lateral moves for a backup center.
Other issues to keep an eye on: former Rockets Patrick Patterson and Kyle Lowry can both ball and are both on expiring contracts. The Alan Hahn report comes as a shocker because I think Lin has played well, but one scenario that could make sense might be to deal Asik for picks, acquire Patterson to fill the backup big void, and then ship out Lin in a three-way bringing back Lowry for the backup backcourt slot. With Asik and Lin off the books, and capable backups in place, the Rockets could continue to contend this year while setting themselves for near-max flexibility in the summer. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Morey sell high on Aaron Brooks now that he has seemed to have awoken from a coma which has dated back three years. With teams such as the Lakers and Knicks wetting themselves frantically in search of point guard help, it wouldn’t seem too far fetched to see someone fork over a second rounder for Brooks.
With Morey, as always, expect the unexpected, and brace yourself for multiple deals. They’ll find ways to shore up holes while maintaining flexibility. That’s why every guy in the league playing on an expiring deal should be watched closely.