Money Talks, Asik Doesn’t Walk

Omer Asik's "poison pill" contract may have backfired on Houston (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

The “poison pill” in Omer Asik’s contract may have backfired on Houston. (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

HOUSTON — Follow the money. It’s an adage that’s been around as long as Deep Throat whispering to Bob Woodward in a garage.

The Rockets’ efforts to trade discontented center Omer Asik by their self-imposed deadline this week have ended in large part because other teams are leery of the structure of the Turkish 7-footer’s contract and the cash payments due. As a result, even though the official NBA trade deadline is not until Feb. 20, a league source said Asik could wind up staying in Houston for the length of his deal.

Asik signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Rockets in the summer of 2012, which included a so-called “poison pill” final season salary of $15 million that was put in place to discourage his previous team, the Bulls, from matching the offer. Even though the money can be spread out evenly over the deal and applied to the salary cap at $8.3 million in the 2014-15 season, many of Houston’s would-be trade partners balked at laying out so much cash for a 25-30 minute per game player.

Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while starting all 82 games for the Rockets last season. But he has repeatedly asked to be traded ever since the club signed free-agent center Dwight Howard in July. Coach Kevin McHale tried Howard and Asik together as a Twin Towers combination in the starting lineup to open the season, but pulled the plug on the experiment after eight games when there was little chemistry or effectiveness at both ends of the court.

After Asik begged off playing on Nov. 14 at New York and then repeated his trade request, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey stepped up his efforts to make a deal, talking at times to the Sixers, Celtics, Hawks, Bucks, Cavaliers and others. A deal that would have brought Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a draft pick to Houston was discussed more than a week ago and rejected by the Rockets.

Evidently, the more that Morey pressed to move Asik, the more other teams expressed their reticence and began to lower their offers.

A hint that no deal was forthcoming may have come from McHale both before and after Wednesday night’s 109-94 win at home over the Bulls. On two different occasions, the head coach made reference to “when Omer gets back.” Asik has been sidelined since Dec. 2 with a severely bruised thigh that eventually caused a fluid build-up around his knee.

The Rockets would like nothing more than for Asik to accept his role as Howard’s backup, giving them a chance to keep a good rim protector on the court at all times. However, that will require a significant attitude adjustment by the 7-footer who has pouted openly and made no secret of his desire to go to a team where he could be a full-time starter.

There is nothing to stop Morey from continuing to peddle Asik around the league. And the market could percolate as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches. But it is that clever contract with the $15 million final year payout that landed him with the Rockets that could keep them stuck with him.


  1. jake s. says:

    The only reason I recommend Asik over Howard is because of Dwights history of needing to be the best. His team is only ever as good as he is. Same goes for ‘Melo.

  2. PC3 says:

    People calling/saying Poison Pill? But it really should be called “Teams that cant afford that year because we will be paying out more in taxes then for player ” thanks to Stern/Owners = Smart border line Genuis GM Daryl Morey (Top 3 GM)..Asik is acting like a 7 foot baby he only cares about Stats/being A Starter then winning. Their is no room for guys like that on your team..$ is more important then winning = No Morals &No Loyalty…Good Ridens RT

  3. theaandthea says:

    asik is better than dwight howard, have a lot more potential, a lot more IQ, he closes his mouth, plays hard ans know what a BIG MEN has to do.
    clearly fooled by houston (well he has still a big amount of money every 15 days don’t worry for him)
    So omer, if you can’t get out of this, outplay howard.

  4. Mike C says:

    Asik can always opt out of his contract somehow if he wants to be a full time starter. I don’t know why the Celtics are offering what they have. If the Rockets want to move him and his contract they both should be able to come to an agreement. The rockets signed Howard and Asik to their present contracts so they are the one’s holding the bag. Let them squirm a bit more.

  5. Tcli says:

    The only reason I can imagine that Houston did not make a trade was because Daryl Morey believed that other teams’ offers were not good enough. They still have time to make a deal by Feb 20 and I doubt they won’t make some sort of trade given Omer’s attitude and unwillingness to accept his role this season. “As a result, even though the official NBA trade deadline is not until Feb. 20, a league source said Asik could wind up staying in Houston for the length of his deal.” Ummm. sure… Not sure who your source is, but I highly doubt this happens. As you said, the Rockets have already had offers that would trump Asik sitting on the bench or playing with 70% effort. So in conclusion, dislike this article immensely… Completely misses the point

  6. djMamba says:

    I would trade Perkins for Asik.. I mean OKC would be a legit contender then. ! but if that doesn’t happen he needs to accept his role.. the minutes he does play he can play really hard and earn more minutes or whatever.. no need to keep asking to be traded, he isn’t even that good.. I mean he’s certainly not someone you an build around, he is at best a 4th ,5th option on a team.

    • Desmodeus says:

      I can’t imagine why Houston would want to make that trade. I can certainly imagine OKC jumping at it but why on earth would Houston trade a big man with limited offensive skills for big man with no offensive skills whatsoever. Perk can’t even catch the ball let alone do anything with it once he’s got it.

  7. Rockets fan says:

    I don’t understand this article showing negativity towards the Rockets by this “poison Pill”. They would want nothing more than to keep asik, unless a suitable and usable player replaced him, which doesn’t seem to be happening, So now when he heals up and has to play, the rockets will have gotten what they wanted…. so its a positive? and time will only tell, but he cant just stop trying unless he wants a major salary cut once his contract is over, and his team wont resign him due to an attitude problem

  8. kissofdeath says:

    This “poison pill” contract helped the Rockets free cap space to Dwight Howard. They acquired Asik free and clear as well. Asik knew the Rockets were queer for Howard before he signed with Houston.The Rockets could bench Asik the entire year and still be ahead of the game.

  9. Bill Kovacs says:

    It just goes to show how stupid some GMS really are when they give out these dumb contracts. As a life long CELTICS fan, I can’t tell you how happy I am that they didn’t get involved !!

  10. Ben says:

    I can’t say that I think Asik is “pouting” as much as justifiably pissed off. It’s not as if he hasn’t yet proved his worth within the NBA. He certainly did a great job last year of being the defensive presence that Houston needed. Is he the second coming of Kareem? No. But he certainly has performed well enough to deserve being a starter. With as many teams in the NBA that can score, there are just as many who under perform on the defensive side. Asik doesn’t need to put up 20+ points a game, he needs to protect the rim, grab rebounds, and block a shot or two a game. Anyways, I do think that he could have handled himself better during this season, but I think “pout” is a bit strong to describe Asik’s reaction to being put back on the bench. Just think, he left Chicago for the opportunity to prove his worth as a starter, and now that he has proven himself he just wants to continue starting. I don’t see a problem with that.

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      Yeah he has proven he can be a good starter but he’s not better than dwight howard

      and as howard’s back up it makes the team over all this much stronger, increasing chances to win a championship

      he needs to accept the role, try for 6th man of the year, and be happy to be paid so much and also have a chance at a title.

    • R says:

      Excellent post, agree 100%.

    • Shikamaru says:

      I agree with Ben, he already proved he has the defensive presence at the rim. He don’t want to be the second option again when Noah is in Chicago so he go to a team that would make him the 1st option as a Center. Then Houston came, unfortunately Houston got Dwight and the rest is history.

      There are certain person/people that don’t want to be the 2nd option and seek for the best for themselves rather than staying and doing nothing.