Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the Houston Rockets and how they are one of a handful of teams expected to compete for the Western Conference crown. Bringing in Dwight Howard to a team that was already trending way up was a coup, but it created some hard feelings for Omer Asik. What’s the solution here?
Although he’s hardly a prolific tweeter, Asik did have this to say after last season (and before Howard came on board):
Thank you to all the rockets fans for supporting us this season. We’ll learn from this and come back stronger.
— Omer Asik (@AsikOmer) May 4, 2013
Asik makes a good point here that he needs to take to heart. Everything that happens in basketball (and in life) is a learning experience. In his two seasons with the Chicago Bulls, he knew he wouldn’t get past Joakim Noah unless an injury popped up. When the Rockets signed Asik away from the Bulls back in the summer of 2012, he felt wanted and was happy to be a starter.
All he did was put up the best offensive season of his career and led the NBA in total rebounds, despite playing just 30 minutes per game.
Now, Asik is back in the same situation he was previously. He’s feeling unwanted and unappreciated. The Rockets watched him start all 82 games, watched him put up career bests in almost all major categories, then replaced him.
The options are for Asik to get starts at the power forward, which sounds like a train wreck to me, or have him come off the bench and back Howard up. Having that kind of quality depth up front is extremely important to the Rockets and their title aspirations, but Asik is feeling a bit perturbed.
At this year’s media day, Asik sounded like a frustrated man that was trying to do what’s best for the team, but didn’t like it one bit:
“You guys can ask as much as you can (about the trade demand), but I’m not going to say anything about this. I think (Howard) is the best center in the league, and that’s a great addition for the Houston Rockets. So we’ll see how it goes, starting tomorrow.”
How has it gone in the preseason?
It hasn’t. Asik has been sidelined with a calf injury and hasn’t played a minute during the first four games. However, he did go through a full practice this weekend and could see some time next to Howard in their game against the Mavericks on Monday night.
This situation is something to keep an eye on. If Asik and Howard can succeed on the court together, then no harm has been done. If they struggle and Asik is relegated to the bench, will he sulk? Will he continue to work hard and support the team and Howard?
My prediction? Winning cures a lot of hurt feelings. I’d bet Asik would take a championship ring as a backup over a first-round exit as a starter. If they start hot, all this talk will stop. If they have a slow start, expect the grumbles from the bench to become deafening.