Rockets trade of Asik first step in pursuit of LeBron, Carmelo

HANG TIME, Texas – The Rockets can’t begin the actual shopping for another franchise showpiece until July 1, but it’s never too early to start moving out the old furniture to make room.

In a deal that was first reported by @WojYahooNBA, Houston will send center Omer Asik and $1.5 million to the Pelicans for a first-round draft pick in 2015.

While Asik has wanted out ever since last summer when Dwight Howard made his jump to the Rockets. But the move comes now as the team prepares to make pitches to cream of the free agent crop LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Beginning on Tuesday, when free agents can begin to talk to other teams, Anthony has agreed to meet with the Rockets, Mavericks and Bulls, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.

The Rockets have long been interested in Anthony, pre-dating his move from Denver to New York in 2011. In order to offer him a maximum amount of $17.9 in the first season of a four-year contract, Houston would still have to trade point guard Jeremy Lin.

The Rockets also plan to make a full-court press on James, who opted out of the last two years of his contract with the Heat in order to become a free agent this summer. The four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion James is certainly at the top of the list of talent that general manager Daryl Morey will pursue to team up with Howard and All-NBA first team guard James Harden.

According to our own John Schuhmann, the trade gives the Rockets $7.9 million of cap space, with non-guaranteed deals for Josh Powell and Omri Casspi and partially guaranteed Robert Covington on the books. If they waive those players and don’t pick up the team option on Troy Daniels, they’re at $9.8 million. If they dump Lin on someone, they’re at $17.7 million. That assumes that Francisco Garcia opts out, they keep Patrick Beverley at his $915,000, and Chandler Parsons is at his $2.875 million qualifying offer until they sign everybody else.

The Pelicans will be getting a solid performer in the middle to play alongside Anthony Davis in a formidable defensive tandem. Asik averaged a double-double of 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 2012-13, his only NBA season as a full-time starter.

Asik and Lin were both signed as free agents by the Rockets in July of 2015 for nearly identical three-year, $25 million contracts that were backloaded. The 7-foot center from Turkey will make $15 million this season, but only $8.37 million counts against the salary cap.

The trade cannot be made official until after Thursday’s NBA draft, because the Pelicans owe their 2014 first-round pick to the 76ers and teams are prohibited from trading top picks in back-to-back seasons. The first round pick the Rockets will get from New Orleans is protected through No. 10 in the draft.

A starting front court of Davis, Asik and Ryan Anderson would provide Pelicans coach Monty Williams with both the defense and scoring he needs to lift his team that’s been underachieving and outside of the playoff race in the Western Conference for the past three years. He’s an excellent rim protector and rebounder. It’s a big step for a franchise that has been struggling to carve out an identity and create a level of excitement in New Orleans.

But the Rockets are the ones with their sights set on big things. Much bigger. Step 1 is complete and the race for LeBron and Melo is on.

21 Comments

  1. josh james says:

    Even if you can’t get a James or Anthony, you’ve set up some good cap space from just getting rid of an overrated fly swatter. Good show!

  2. Kyyon Gordon says:

    I think Carmelo Anthony should sign with the Houston Rockets for less money and that will leave enough money for the Rockets to sign a Free Agent like Lance Stephensen or probably a good guard like Kyle Lowry. LeBron James should sign back with Miami as well as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, so they will have Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis, and also Uconn guard Shabazz Napier. What do you think LeBron and Carmelo should do?

  3. benny says:

    to me the rockets should just have 2 plans. 1 try to pursue lebron. the rockets need to convince him that houston is the place to be for a championship next year and that they will do any moves necessary to make him happy.2 trade for Love. if this happens it houston would be very excellent rebounding team with Howard and Love in the paint,also Love can shoot the 3ball. for this to happen i think the rockets would trade Lin and maybe DMO. Carmelo would not be good for houston because they already have a scorer Harden and the SF position belongs to Parsons who is really rising star,but needs to work harder if he doesn’t want to become expendable .

  4. alf says:

    As a rokets Chines fan ,i think rokets should trade James Harden because he is too selfish and no defance. In Chinese circle,no Yaoming,no people know Rokets, if no Jeremy Lin,no people will watch Rokets.

  5. Michael says:

    As a Rockets fan, landing either of these two would be nice, but I still think the Rockets main problem is depth (other than their OTHER main problem, being coaching, but I’m willing to give McHale another year to wrap his head around it all). This ‘arms race’ rhetoric about talent in the West only goes so far. Houston’s starting lineup is NOT lacking in terms of raw talent (except maybe at PF, but Jones is young/growing and needs playing time). There is a HUGE dropoff though when you bring in subs, especially now that Asik is gone and Lin is going to go. I mean, who’s the sixth man now, D-Mo?? (Love ya D-Mo…)

    I’d just hate to see the Rocks burn all their cap space to land a superstar, create another ‘Big 3′, do nothing for the blatantly anemic bench, run their starters to the ground playing 38 mpg, etc… I just don’t think Melo/Lebron solves all or even most of the problems in Houston.

  6. Kevin says:

    Ounce again people are missing the point of Houston being in the west! melo and LeBron are not idiots! Its a no brainer to stay in the east. Lets say melo joins the bulls ( which I think is most likely to happen) the bulls amesty boozers 16.7 million and get rid of dunnleavy that opens up roughly 19 million in space for melo. Now you have Rose, Melo, Noah, Butler, And Taj Gibson as your starting 5. That’s an insane starting five and the clear cut favorite to win the east. The only competition would be Miami if Lebron stays. Why would Melo ar Lebron for that matter join the west and have to battle teams like the Clippers,Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, etc.

  7. kenny says:

    bad idea by Rocketts LBJ Melo will team up in miami watch

  8. Carlo says:

    @ Joepsych:

    Yeah! Why not? Maybe if the Spurs offer Parker+Leonard+Mills…

    @ Deutztony:

    Asik is not a Free Agent, so he goes where they send him.
    Besides, he raised a mess for not wanting to be the 2nd center… and you want him in Chicago… behind Noah?
    Obviously he would benefit Miami (they lack a good center) but how can they afford him?

    @ tony:

    Love is not a Free Agent, you know? To get him, Houston should trade one or two very valuable pieces.

    • tony says:

      @ Carlo

      this seems compelling for ALL parties involved:

      houston creates all the cap space needed by primarily shedding jeremy lin’s contract
      houston trades james harden to minnesota for kevin love and kevin martin
      anthony signs with houston
      james signs with houston
      ray allen follows james to houston
      parsons re-signs

      2015 starters: howard, james, anthony, love, beverley
      bench: parsons, martin, allen, et.al.

  9. Carlo says:

    tinus, have you read the article? Do you know what salary cap is?
    IF Houston can dump Lin, then MAYBE they can afford ONE more star (say Anthony).
    How do you think they could add another one like Bosh or Ibaka (who’s NOT on the market, by the way).

  10. tony says:

    fran, i miss your wit & wisdom during your houston post years. i realize the allure of anthony and james, but acquiring kevin love seems to fit better with houston’s existing core. pursuing anthony and/or james and forcing harden to concede the offensive focal point might only cause bad chemistry and ego problems.

    kevin love is the answer. not lebron nor carmelo!

  11. Deutztony says:

    Asik should go back to Chicago or be in Miami…

  12. lee says:

    the will have no issues moving lin just because its on a 1 year deal and someone will be trying to open up cap room for next year i think i would go ahead and trade chandler parsons and see if i could grab a good rebounder stretch 4 like ryan andersen especially if the get lebron james a stretch 4 wil be much needed

  13. Joepsych says:

    Spurs should go after Love. Don’t know what they could offer for him but, he would be a great one year understudy for Duncan, can learn the system and take over the show the following year. He is a versatile big man the Spurs will need going forward.

  14. imissthethunder says:

    Are the Pelicans and Asik happy campers? Did the Pelicans just get better? Anthony needs some help. Is he gonna get it this year? The Pelicans are way off the radar. I wanna see some other changes too! This should not be it. This team is plagued w/ injuries. They limped through last season, wasn’t even worth tuning in.

  15. Barea_always_a_MAV says:

    pretty good decision for the Pelicans.

  16. Chris says:

    Wow, till recently I didn’t even realize Lin’s big contract is mostly paid out to him in the third year. Just makes it seem even more ridiculous, I like Lin but there are plenty of point guards available for cheaper, or better ones available for the same price. Good luck moving him Morey.

    • Denholm says:

      its a poison pill contract same as asik’s, serves two purposes, rounds out salary cap so when you need to trade to balance salaries for better players the money works, also means the team that acquires them is financially stuck because they have an overpaid player, unfortunately for the rockets, the hype surrounding lin and asik died so very quickly.

  17. tinus says:

    i love rockets, it will cool if melo can join……if,…..bosh can be tandem for howard…or serg ibaka? – still contract? he..he..big 4…..rockets champ?