Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports that the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets have discussed a trade for Rockets center Omer Asik. The Trail Blazers had interest in Asik during the 2013 offseason, prior to settling for Robin Lopez in free agency. Although Lopez has served admirably, there is no denying the Asik would be a step up for Portland.
The Trail Blazers are off to one of their best starts in years, but they’re not kidding themselves. They know they’ve taken advantage of a pillow-soft schedule and have surprised themselves with their shooting (45%). So they’re quietly looking to improve, talking to the Rockets about trading for Omer Asik. They can send back Robin Lopez in a deal, but don’t have the “stretch four’’ the Houston is looking for as it searches for a home for its disgruntled backup center. The Rockets want a power forward who can shoot threes to pair next to Dwight Howard. That led them, predictably, to the Pelicans, home of Ryan Anderson. But the Pelicans refused to part with Anderson, even though putting Asik in the middle and moving Anthony Davis to power forward makes a lot of sense.
The Trail Blazers don’t have the exact pieces Houston needs, but they apparently have the willingness to trade that other team’s do not. The Rockets may have to settle, themselves, if they want to move the dissatisfied 7-footer. Omer Asik has asked for a trade twice now in the past 4 months; once in July (after the Rockets signed Dwight Howard) and once in early November (after being pushed out of the starting lineup).
So what would an Omer Asik trade look like for Portland? To begin with, it would have to include Robin Lopez. It makes no sense for the Trail Blazers to pick up their fourth center while the Rockets drop to one. Lopez is mediocre starting center in the NBA, but would be an asset off the bench in Houston. However, not only would a straight swap be irresponsibly flawed for the Rockets, the salaries don’t match up.
Both players are under contract through 2015, but Lopez is owed roughly $6 million per season to Asik’s $8.4 million. The Trail Blazers would probably have to offer up another piece. Problem being, they have no players that really interest the Rockets and (thanks to their busy offseason) no near-future draft picks to bundle. The most desirable candidate (for Houston) to be tacked onto an Asik/Lopez trade is CJ McCollum, and the Trail Blazers would be foolish to include him.
So while the rumor mill continues to buzz, don’t expect Omer Asik to end up in a Trail Blazers uniform. The Houston Rockets can get better deals elsewhere down the line and General Manager Daryl Morey is not about to forget that. Besides, if/when nothing comes of these trade talks, at least Portland can look back on their 13-2 record and say, “At least we didn’t rock the boat.”