Last month, the Houston Rockets couldn’t wait to move center Omer Asik, going so far as to create a self-imposed deadline by which to get him traded.
Now a report says the Rockets might not deal the disgruntled and injured big man at all.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Houston is caught in a bit of a dilemma as it relates to Asik’s trade prospects.
“Teams that are tanking don’t want him to make them better and winning teams want to steal him,” one rival GM told Berger.
The other obstacle to a potential Asik deal remains his contract, which balloons to $15 million in its final year next season.
However, and this is important to point out, if Houston general manager Daryl Morey wanted to regain some leverage in talks for Asik, he would absolutely let it “leak” publicly that he wants to keep him.
But the dynamic that the Asik situation really sheds some light on is how serious teams are about positioning themselves for the 2014 draft. Most years, fringe contenders might be interested in taking a flyer on Asik as a piece that could get them over the top for a playoff spot.
This season, particularly in the Eastern Conference, it appears that teams are doing whatever they can to not get over the top for a playoff spot in favor of attempting to bottom out as much as possible in the fight for ping-pong balls in May.
That’s what leads a team such as the Toronto Raptors, who have gotten hot of late, winning five straight games to become the fourth team in the East with a winning record while building a four-game lead in the Atlantic Division, is shopping point guard Kyle Lowry in an effort to get worse rather than looking at adding pieces for a playoff run.
While no Eastern GM has actually come out and said the words, the operating theory seems to be: “Look, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting past Miami or Indiana anyway, so let’s just suck as much as humanly possible to try to get into the top five of this draft.”
However, as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches, it’s likely that demand for Asik will increase, if for no other reason than there aren’t a lot of quality centers out there and teams will be more likely to give into the temptation of a trade in February, with the playoffs right around the corner, than they would be in mid-December or early January.