As one probably surmised by the piece I wrote earlier this week, I am hell-bent on getting Omer Asik out of New Orleans before the end of the summer. My new plan to remove the mismatched center from town involves a trade with the Houston Rockets... and yes, you read that right!
The Rockets are in a state of dismay. They have a superstar in James Harden and all of the cap space in the world after Dwight Howard decided to opt-out of his $23M player option, but the good news quickly ends there. I do not see them landing remotely anything close to a free agent gem needed to pair alongside Harden for next season.
Currently, their roster includes: Harden, Corey Brewer, Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley, KJ McDaniels, Sam Dekker, Clint Capela, Montrezl Harrell, and Andrew Goudelock, with a team option on Michael Beasley. Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones are restricted free agents. This combination of players do not appear likely to make a push for another playoff run in Houston anytime soon.
The Rockets need to score an impact player or two, yet they are finding difficultly even attracting all potential options for a meeting -- Kevin Durant's shortlist has yet to include a visit in Houston. In the past, names like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry have spurned on setting up residence. Hmm, "Clutch City?" More like "Screwston," no?
Earlier this year, there were reports that Al Horford and Ryan Anderson were going to be among their top free agent targets. If Horford decides to play elsewhere, Daryl Morey will have to hope he can lure Anderson, a long associated fetish. Were the Flamethrower to wind up in Houston, the Rockets would desperately need to find a one-man wreaking ball on defense and in the rebounding department.
Enter Omer Asik.
The frequency of sign-and-trade deals this summer are expected to be notably lower due to the impending explosion of the salary cap, but one might make sense for Terrence Jones. Last season, Jones fell out of favor with the coaching staff, ceding minutes even to Beasley, the oft-traveled, recent Chinese MVP.
I don’t know what Terrence Jones’s plans were for after Game 4 but James Harden ruined them. pic.twitter.com/DP84cxjDHC— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 22, 2016
Terrence Jones is probably ready to move on, yet his options are limited because as mentioned earlier, he is a restricted free agent. Morey is not one to just let an asset walk, so expect the general manager to re-sign the disgruntled employee, especially if most free agents ignore Houston.
So, Morey's best option this summer might be to sign Anderson and then trade for Asik, who once enjoyed a good deal of success in their system. The Pelicans would likely need to attach a sweetener to the deal, but the contracts could end up being in the same neighborhood so no other major pieces would have to be attached.
Why the Rockets do it:
Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical scenario where the Rockets do not land Durant, another major contributor, or re-sign Dwight Howard -- all quite likely scenarios. The Rockets will jump on any chance to land one of their top free agents, and unless Morey has had a sudden change of heart, he still probably envies Anderson.
Envisioning a Beverley-Harden-Ariza-Harrell-Capela starting lineup does not bode well for a postseason berth, and to appease The Beard, Morey is going to need to do something. Adding Anderson and Asik will not make the Rockets an instant title contender, but it should make them more competitive. Sometimes, that's all that's required when a team has a rare superstar on the roster.
Anderson is seen by many as an almost max contract player -- that's the going rate by today's standards. There is no denying he would fit on the offensive side of the ball through his unparalleled floor spacing ability. Asik (though he is far from a fan favorite in New Orleans) was recently liked by the Rockets -- he was only traded to appease Dwight Howard. If Asik has anything left in the tank, he could provide Mike D'Antoni the dominating paint presence he'll need for his preferred system of having four perimeter scorers on the floor, who likely possess a wart or two, defensively and/or on the glass.
Why the Pelicans do it:
- Omer Asik's atrocious contract and unproductive game under Alvin Gentry get moved.
- Pelicans acquire a small ball fit, with some potential remaining, on a contract that will cost significantly less than the maximum. In almost 21 minutes per game last season, he averaged 8.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.8 BPG, while shooting 45.2 FG% 31.6 3PT%. (That's 15 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG per 36 minutes.)
- Jones just happens to be Anthony Davis' old college buddy with whom he won an NCAA Championship. Giving the Unibrow another reason to view New Orleans more positively is never a bad idea.
- The sign-and-trade would improve the competitiveness of the roster without burdening any significant amount of salary cap space.
A swap of Jones for Asik could hypothetically work out as a win-win. The Rockets land one of their top free agents as well as a starting center, while the Pelicans land a high potential guy that Anthony Davis would enjoy, both on and off the court.
What do you guys think? Is this a realistic trade? If so, is Terrence Jones the right player to put next to Anthony Davis? Would you rather see the Pelicans re-sign Ryan Anderson? Let us know what you think in the comments and poll below!