Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
This week, we borrow three questions from The Starters season preview podcasts.
Does Omer Asik stay in Houston? If yes, why keep him? If no, why not, and where’s he headed?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Well, most players don’t get traded, even those who are ripe for one. And I’ll say he stays right in Houston for a few other reasons, too. One, you rarely see an NBA team with too many big guys. Two, Asik — like Dwight Howard — can keep improving under coach and all-time big man Kevin McHale, maybe even develop some chemistry when he’s on the floor with the All-Star center. And three, one or the other might get hurt before a trade can be concocted. If it’s Asik, then his trade value suffers. If it’s Howard, then Asik’s value to the Rockets soars.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: No. I think the twin towers experiment in Houston will prove unworkable and the Rockets will choose to move Asik rather than have him sit uncomfortably on the bench. A deal that would send him to New Orleans for Howard’s old sidekick from their Orlando days, Ryan Anderson, is a perfect fit move that helps both teams that a needed step forward.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: For the benefit of their team, Asik needs to finish the season elsewhere because the Rockets need another shooter. After signing Dwight Howard, the popular trade destination for Asik was New Orleans in exchange for sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. NOLA needs size, but not sure Asik would find this situation any more appealing than playing behind Dwight. Asik is owed $16.2 million this season and next, a movable contract for a solid center to be sure. Could the Lakers use a big man? Not sure there’s much trade bait in L.A. Dallas needs a long-term answer in the middle and finally has contracts they should be able to move before the deadline.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: I don’t know where he’s headed, but I think he’s headed somewhere. He is valued around the league for defense and rebounding and so the Rockets will get trade offers. They will probably get attractive trade offers as midseason approaches and the deadline looms. Houston has a lot of reason to be encouraged about the future, but it is not a complete team. Filling holes by trading Asik it closer.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. The Rockets have a great pick-and-roll game and the beginnings (Dwight Howard) of a strong defense. Asik is a terrific defender, but with Howard playing 35 minutes a night, Houston isn’t getting full value out of their backup. They have the potential to be the best team in the West and elite on both ends of the floor if they can swap Asik for a forward who can shoot and defend (and that last part eliminates Ryan Anderson). The West is wide open and Houston should go for it.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Asik finishes the season in Houston the same place he starts it, backing up Dwight Howard and accepting his role on a team that has a chance to do big things. No offense to his fans around the world, but Asik is not a player who changes a team’s championship fortunes with his mere presence. He’s a rugged big man you love to have on your roster (just ask the folks in Chicago) and he’ll come in handy around playoff time if the Rockets need to add beef to the frontcourt lineup. This idea that a disgruntled Asik will work his way out of town, though, is a stretch. He’s already been paid handsomely and has a chance to be an impact performer on a quality team in Houston. I’d imagine that’s more appealing than being a starter somewhere that doesn’t offer the same opportunity to win at a high level. The Rockets have no reason to jettison a big man for whatever they could fetch for Asik in a trade.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I would say yes, but with Daryl Morey at the helm I guess you have to err on the side of not-caution when it comes to predicting trades. I will say this: If I were running the Rockets, I’d keep Asik around all season. Hey, remember what happened to the NBA team that had too many big guys? Exactly: It hasn’t happened. I get that Asik’s contract is workable and that probably increases his chances of being traded, but I’m just not certain in what world having a big man who can rebound and run the floor and defend to pair alongside Dwight Howard — who has battled injuries in recent years — is a bad thing.
Karan Madhok, NBA.com India: I think Asik should be on his way out. With Dwight Howard in the middle, the Rockets need to surround their talented big man with players who can knock down the outside shot. Asik and Howard together in the middle would be a disaster for the speedier Houston offenses, and during the crunch-time free-throw battle. I like the recent talk of sending Asik to New Orleans in exchange for sharp-shooting stretch power forward Ryan Anderson. Anderson enjoyed the best years of his career playing with Howard in Orlando and would be a good fit in Houston. Asik would fit in with the Pelicans, too, slipping into the center position next to Anthony Davis as power forward.
Davide Chinellato, NBA.com Italia: I don’t think the Asik-Howard frontcourt experiment will work for the Rockets. They’re too similar (I mean, Dwight played PF early in his career but he’s now a true center). So, my guess is Asik will go elsewhere very soon. Where? I don’t know, but there are a lot of teams who could use a center like him. Portland, for instance, could turn into a contender with a center like Asik. But I guess the Rockets would ask LaMarcus Aldridge in return and I just don’t see that happening.