With the self-imposed trade deadline of December 19 set by Omer Asik, it appears as if the Houston Rockets are more than willing to deal their disgruntled big man, who has been discontent since the team signed Dwight Howard last Summer. With a handful of teams showing interest in acquiring another big man to help clog up the middle, one team who has emerged as a possible favorite appears to be the Boston Celtics. In the latest round of NBA rumors, one potential deal could see the Rockets trade Asik to the Celtics for either Jeff Green or Brandon Bass.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks have also been involved in trade discussions with the Rockets, but the Celtics may be more motivated to pull off a deal within the next 24-48 hours. The problem is Asik’s contract, which includes a balloon payment of $15 million to be paid next season. That was inserted into his contract by Houston when Asik was a restricted free agent, which forced the Chicago Bulls to pass on re-signing him.
Sources say that the Celtics are not scared off by that figure, mainly since they traded away many of their larger salaries and received some expiring contracts after this season.
In order for a deal to be completed, there remains a very strong possibility that another team will need to be involved to set off salaries as well as add draft picks. The latest rumor has the Cleveland Cavaliers entering the fray, although it is unknown as to whether or not the Cavs would receive Green in the deal or if they would get a first round draft pick, which would send Green to Houston and Asik to Boston.
Of course, the biggest question for any team inquiring about Asik is which player are they getting in return? Last season, without Howard, Asik started all 82 games and averaged right around 10 points and 12 rebounds per game in 30 minutes of play. This season, while he has appeared in just 17 games and started 8 of them, Asik is averaging around 4 points and 7 rebounds per game in roughly 18 minutes of action per contest.
Depending on whether or not Asik is healthy and happy, that could be an awfully large amount to have to pay a player averaging those sort of numbers. The Celtics have done a fine job getting out from under some bad contracts in recent history, so they may want to think twice before executing a deal such as this one with the Rockets.