Omer Asik Thrives With Rockets

The Rockets have completely revamped the roster, and while the year promises to bring excitement, the challenges this young team will face will require patience. The preseason so far has shown the ups and downs each player faces, and what they will need to address as the season progresses.

As Daryl Morey continues his quest for a franchise player, the Rockets find themselves in search for stability. The presumed starting lineup will feature a backcourt of Jeremy Lin, and Kevin Martin, while Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, and Omer Asik round out the starting five.

Omer Asik signed a three year 25 million dollar contract with the Rockets which left many wondering if the team overpaid for the center. The term “poison pill” swept the basketball nation by storm after general manager Daryl Morey executed a savvy method earlier on Jeremy Lin. The “poison pill” would have the Rockets pay Asik 14.9 million in 2015, a contract that would be backlogged, making the investment difficult for the Chicago Bulls to swallow.

So far the preseason has proven to many Rockets fans that not only is Asik’s label as an above average defensive center true, but that his dedication after receiving a lucrative contract doesn’t need to be questioned.

In six preseason games played, Asik has racked up 69 rebounds, 25 of them being offensive. The Turkish center has shown his relentlessness on the boards each game, bringing a mixture of youth and height at the center position that the team has not had in years.

Asik’s ability to read plays on the defensive end is stellar. He moves his feet strategically, and most importantly realizes what he’s capable of doing. Asik has shown that he rarely takes risks that he knows he can’t handle. For a 255 pound center, Asik is able to cover the pick and roll, and stretch his defense out to the perimeter.

The forward heavy team is so thin at the five, that Asik’s value is irreplaceable. The Rockets do have Donatas Motiejunas the seven-foot rookie from Lithuania, but his lack of experience has shown this preseason. Greg Smith is another big man the Rockets are hoping to cultivate, but as they wait, Asik’s experience becomes all the more important.

Asik’s ceiling as an offensive player may not be high, but for the Rockets his defensive presence will help a backcourt of Lin, and Martin who aren’t traditionally known for defense. It will be interesting to see Asik transition into a starters role. He played behind the talented Joakim Noah in Chicago, but in Houston he is the man in the paint. Asik’s main challenges will be pacing himself, and staying out of foul trouble, something so many centers struggle with.

Asik is averaging 8 points, 1 steal, and 11.5 rebounds per game.

The pill on Asik was labeled “poison,” but for the Rockets it’s a prescription that they haven’t taken in years.

Rockets Sign Omer Asik

After prying away Jeremy Lin from the New York Knicks, the Rockets have now managed to do the same with big man Omer Asik from the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls decided not to match the three-year, $25 million offer sheet given to Asik by the Rockets. The offer now popularly known as the “poison pill” contract is identical in structure to Lin’s deal. The third year will cash out $14.8 million which both the Knicks and Bulls thought was financially irresponsible. The Rockets on the other hand have cleared enough cap space to make these offers, and have found a loophole for acquiring restricted free-agents.

The Asik acquisition is a smart move for the Rockets after trading away Samuel Dalembert prior to the draft, and parting ways with Marcus Camby. The moves left the Rockets without a center, making this deal an essential one.

Asik who averaged just 3.1 points, is not known for his offense, but his defense is another story. Asik possesses above average defensive capabilities, and will help close down a paint that has been largely open for opposing guards over the years.

If the future holds a Jeremy Lin, and Jeremy Lamb backcourt, then Asik’s services in the frontcourt will be badly needed.

The Rockets have made moves but the quest for a superstar is still ongoing, meaning the Rockets are likely not done. Dwight Howard has not been moved yet, and Andrew Bynum is still on the radar. Asik certainly isn’t a player the team can build around, but fills a massive void in such a crucial position in basketball.

Since Yao Ming’s departure the Rockets have gone through multiple centers, specifically average old ones. Asik is just 26 years old standing seven feet tall, and a big body that can alter shots in the paint. Asik’s defense improved significantly under defensive guru and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rockets fans may remember “Thibs” as an assistant coach under Jeff Van Gundy.

While Morey hasn’t acquired a superstar yet, he has managed to sign two “RFA’s” that will likely be starting for the Rockets.

“I’m looking forward for the new opportunity in Houston,” Asik told the Chicago Tribune.

Rockets Finally Forced To Rebuild?

What do Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, and Kyle Lowry all have in common? None of them will be wearing a Rockets jersey next season.

The Rockets have finally blown up a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in three years. The team tried to trade picks and assets multiple times for a superstar prospect, and it just never panned out. Many would say it was an unrealistic way of getting better, and that’s the truth. The Rockets unlike most teams in the league, belated the inevitable in a classy manner. The team would fight hard against better teams, and would often prevail with a feel good victory.

While those teams would head into the tunnel with a bad regular season loss, they knew they would likely be in the playoffs. For the Rockets it was a proud regular season win, with a very predictable conclusion looming.

Why did the Rockets wait this long? The track record on owner Leslie Alexander does not normally involve the word “rebuild.” Alexander has always been an ambitious owner, and at times has looked stubbornly unrealistic. While general manager Daryl Morey may have advised Alexander that this process we are using is unrealistic, Alexander is the boss, and what he says goes. Three years later the Rockets find themselves as the team that can’t get anyone interested.

The next thing to question for this team is the commitment to accept rebuilding. Is the Dwight Howard chase really finished? The Rockets may have shipped out key role players in various ways, but you can never quite accept that the journey of acquisition is over for this team.

What fans need to keep in mind is the Rockets had a core roster of role players. Not one player on the roster was untouchable, and while Morey made verbal promises on bringing them back, the climate quickly changed.

Now the Rockets are stacked with young talent, but how those players translate into the NBA level is still a mystery. One thing is certain; the Rockets are still looking for a franchise player. That is the one universal goal that will not change.

A quick rundown on how each player was moved. Chase Budinger was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 18 pick in the draft. The Rockets drafted Terrence Jones from Kentucky with that pick. Samuel Dalembert and the Rockets No. 14 pick was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the No. 12 pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, and Shaun Livingston. The Rockets drafted Jeremy Lamb, and many are hoping he is a star in the making. The Rockets also added versatile forward Royce White with the No. 16 pick.

After the draft frenzy wrapped up, free agency hit, and man did it hit! The Rockets once again attempted to scour the market for a superstar. They made a significant offer to big man Omer Asik, met with restricted guard Eric Gordon, and even brought back “Linsanity,” for a visit.

Jeremy Lin is still mulling his contract offer from the Rockets, but all credible sources report that the Knicks will match any deal given to Lin. It is also rumored Jason Kidd has decided on joining the Knicks. Kidd would certainly not be a long term solution for the team, but a great tutor for Lin to improve as a point guard.  So essentially the Rockets are trying, but will likely not acquire Lin but instead make the financial lives of the Knicks a pain. (That’s something I guess.)

While the hunt for a superstar continued, the Rockets backcourt took a massive hit. It was like a blob of Wite-Out spilled, and the backcourt that once consisted of Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic was gone. Dragic signed a 34 million/4 year deal with the Suns, taking his talents back to where his predecessor once played. Only difference now is, Nash is with the Lakers, and Dragic will run the show. Lowry was also traded to the Toronto Raptors for forward Gary Forbes, and a protected future first round pick. The Rockets and Raptors had been chatting about a Lowry deal for weeks, but could not swing the deal in time for the Rockets to move up in the draft, and grad the Raptors No. 8 pick. Not only have the Rockets lost Dragic and Lowry, but you can add swingman Courtney Lee into the mix. The Rockets decided to pull the qualifying offer they gave to the restricted guard, and released him to the free agency stratosphere.

Whew, did you digest all of that?

Multiple questions now loom around this franchise. Are the Rockets finally rebuilding? Will veterans Kevin Martin and Luis Scola be next on the chopping block? Who will be the starting point guard? Who will be the starting center?

It’s not the offseason we all hoped for, but it may be a large dose of reality finally sinking in. While “Red Nation” has a mini panic attack, the Rockets will likely be focusing on cultivating the youth on this roster, instead of trying to cultivate something that never really existed.

Rockets Make Offer To Omer Asik

Multiple sources have confirmed the Rockets have offered a three-year, $25.1 million dollar deal to Chicago Bulls free agent center Omer Asik.

Free agents are unable to sign an offer sheet until July 11, but the Bulls will have three days to match the restricted free agents offer, or will face losing him to the Rockets.

The Rockets are currently without a center, and would be filling a desperate need by adding a defensive oriented big man. Asik’s stats don’t justify this expensive offer, but it’s all about the defense. His defensive awareness is above average, and his toughness will make a huge difference in the paint for the Rockets.

The Rockets clearly offered a financially friendly deal to the Asik camp, knowing that they needed to put pressure on the Bulls to match. The Rockets have been in pursuit of Asik for a couple of years, but when rumors surfaced the Bulls wanted guard Courtney Lee in the package, deals fizzled out.

The contract offered is what they call the “Gilbert Arenas” provision. A loophole that lets the back-end of a contract be inflated. In this case Asik would reportedly make $15 million in the last year of his contract. For more information on the “Gilbert Arenas” provision you can visit http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q44 and as always Larry Coon the salary cap extraordinaire will break it down for you.

While many are skeptical with the money being offered, and Asik’s ability to make a difference, the Rockets have no bigger need than a defensive center. This is Daryl Morey being as proactive as a general manager can be in sports. The Rockets aren’t bad enough to build through the draft, and aren’t good enough to win at a high level with the current structure they have. Take those two factors into consideration, and realize the Rockets do need to spend money in order to move forward. That’s the position this team is in, and unless a major change of direction occurs, the Rockets will have to pay up, and get better through trades and free agent signings.

The Bulls will have an important decision to make, and we will know by July 14 the latest, if Omer Asik is a Chicago Bull, or a Houston Rocket.