|(Asik won't be in a Rockets uni much longer. Illustration, again, courtesy of Maddison Bond)|
Here are the candidates. The Rockets, according to Marc Stein in a recent ESPN article, would prefer to trade him to the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap. Stein wrote: "Yet it remains unclear, sources say, how interested Atlanta really is in parting with coveted forward Paul Millsap -- who's considered an ideal frontcourt complement to Howard -- in exchange for Asik." As dazzling and quite frankly frightening as it would be for Millsap to join the Rockets and turn them into an unstoppable juggernaut, their GM would have to be the dumbest man alive to swap him for Omer Asik, who -- while a nice player -- ain't half the player that Millsap is. So I think we can take Atlanta off the table, barring something dumfounding happen.
The teams most likely to land Asik in a three-way trade are the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers (which makes sense, since they're all horrible and out of the conference). For the Cavs, there was a rumor that they could exchange Anderson Varejao for Asik, which would give Houston a competent seven-footer who's capable of playing next to Dwight Howard. But, again, that deal doesn't seem to make much sense for Cleveland; Asik, let's not forget, makes an insane $14.9 million next year, and with Cleveland already sinking money into Andrew Bynum and hoping to reenter the LeBron sweepstakes this summer, it doesn't make sense for them to take on a $14.9 million paperweight.
The Sixers have a pair of interesting assets who've been floated as possible trading targets for Asik: Spencer Hawes and Thadeus Young. Hawes has an expiring contract, and Houston is reportedly interested in freeing themselves financially so they can be a big player in the next round of free-agency. They're also apparently willing to let go of Jeremy Lin in a move, but the odds of them getting rid of Asik and Lin -- who combine to make around $30 million next year -- in one fell swoop is unlikely. In fact, I'd say the odds of Lin going anywhere are next to nil, if only because I imagine he more than justifies his salary in how much revenue he brings in. Returning to the Sixers, it's looking more and more like Hawes is the guy the Rockets are after, and if Philadelphia is convinced that Hawes is going to leave, or if they're unwilling to give him a big payday, then it makes some amount of sense for them to at least get Asik for him. Young, who has a pretty affordable contract and has a few years left on his deal, is just too valuable for me to see him getting exchanged for Asik and his awful contract. (Besides, that would force the Sixers to play Hawes and Asik at the same time, which would be terribly awkward, as they're both seven-foot centers.)
The Celtics, meanwhile, are looking like the team to watch out for, as they have a slew of dudes who don't really factor into their rebuilding plan and who'd be better off on a contending team, AND they have a very aggressive GM in Danny Ainge. The latest rumor has the Celtics taking on Omer Asik's contract, which would give Houston financial security and possibly a first round pick, and the Cavaliers -- making out like bandits -- would take on Jeff Green, although Brandon Bass has also been mentioned. (I wouldn't be stunned, either, to see the underused Kris Humphries, who has an expiring contract worth $12 million, be involved.) This would be a fantastic move for the Cavaliers, though it would probably be the nail in the coffin in whatever slim chance they have to lure LeBron in. Such a deal would also complicate Green's steady fantasy value, as he'd no longer be the No. 1 scoring option on an NBA team.
The Green option is the one that's been picking up the most steam lately, even though SI writer Chris Mannix sent out a tweet the other day saying, "Nothing to Omer Asik-Jeff Green talk, per source. Celtics happy with Green." Indeed, it does rather odd that the Celtics would want to move Green -- the de facto building block of the franchise in the wake of the Big Three's departure -- for a guy who, while good, is basically just a rebounding specialist, especially since in this supposed three-team deal, all the draft picks involved would be getting funneled to the Rockets.
So of all those options, which is the one that I think is most likely to take place? Allow me, if you will, to speculate. (And hey, I did come within one game of pegging when Kobe Bryant would actually make his season debut, so my track record isn't horrible for now.) The Millsap deal is preposterous. In fact, if Houston could get this deal, there'd be no reason to do further negotiating. So the fact that they're still taking phone calls on Asik tells me that they can't possibly have something in place to land Millsap. So we can throw that offer out the window. Now of other three teams, there just aren't a lot of hypothetical deals that make sense to me. Jeff Green, Thadeus Young and Anderson Varejao are all vastly better players than Asik AND are cheaper, so regardless of all the negotiating going on, it just wouldn't make sense for a team to give away any of those three players for a $14.9 million rebound specialist.
There's only one option that makes sense for both parties, and it's the one I -- personally -- think is going to happen, and that's the Spencer Hawes for Omer Asik theory. Hawes is in the last year of his deal and might be bound for free-agency, so it'd be a win-win for Houston and Philly to exchange their wares in a deal. That doesn't necessarily mean that Asik would have to land in Philly either; he might wind up in Boston or Cleveland in the deal, and Philly would be saved from having to pay either Asik or Hawes the rest of the year. Either way, it plays to the Sixers' advantage.
We'll find out tomorrow where Asik is going and who he's going for, but the fact that the Rockets have reportedly come to a deal weeks ago and are just searching for better ones leads me to believe it's the Hawes deal that's been on the table the whole time -- as the Sixers have been tied to a possible Asik trade from the very beginning. I'm not entirely sure where Asik will be heading, but my guess is that he's going to get shipped out for Spencer Hawes tomorrow. We'll see if I'm right (I'm probably not), and go over the fantasy ramifications of the trade when it takes place sometime tomorrow.
For now, let's focus on what happened on the court in fantasy basketball yesterday.
- After weeks of vague updates, Andre Iguodala surprisingly returned to the court yesterday for the Warriors, though he didn't do much: 2 points and 2 assists in 17 minutes. Still, his owners have to be thrilled that he's back, as he was putting up Nicolas Batum-ish stats prior to suffering his hamstring injury. It might be a few games before Iguodala gets back into the swing of things, but he should resume being an outstanding fantasy option once he starts playing 30-35 minutes a night again.
- Damion Lillard out-dueled Kyrie Irving on Tuesday, scoring 36 points and handing out 10 assists on 8 three's and grabbing 8 rebounds AND hitting a game-winning three in the final seconds. So, yeah, Lillard is incredible. His assist and steal totals leave something to be desired, but he's such a proficient three-point shooter that he's easily one of the most valuable point guards in the NBA. In fact, he might be more valuable than Irving (who had 25 and 10), as Lillard never gets hurt and hits more three's. (To be fair, their numbers are fairly even at the moment, with Irving having a slight edge in a majority of categories.)
- Dion Waiters had another great outing for the Cavs, scoring 25 points off the bench against Portland. Waiters has had an up-and-down season, but he's looked like a future superstar when he's been on his game. For all the faults he may possess, he's an extremely talented guard who has a chance to be a terrific nightly fantasy option if he can just get back into the starting lineup.
- Rudy Gay dealt with knee stiffness in his game Tuesday and had a weak outing for Sacramento: 4 points and 3 rebounds on 1-6 shooting. He's day-to-day.
- You know who hates Rudy Gay? Ben McLemore, whose value has completely cratered since the Kings made the trade for Gay. In his last five games, McLemore is 6-35 from the floor, which is good for 17% shooting. He just can't survive in the starting lineup playing this badly, and it's really a shame, as the Kings may have ruptured McLemore's potential by making this trade.
- Andrew Bogut had a solid line for the Warriors: 8 points, 10 rebounds and a block. I haven't sai much about Bogut this year, but he's having a really nice -- if unspectacular season -- with the Warriors. He's averaging close to 2 blocks and 10 rebounds a night, he's shooting over 60% from the floor and he barely goes to the foul line, so his putrid foul-shooting isn't much of a burden. He doesn't quite have the same ceiling he did when he was in Milwaukee, where he was also sprier, but so long as he can stay healthy and put up rebounds and blocks on a nightly basis, his owners have to be thrilled considering they probably nabbed him at the end of their fantasy draft.
- Eric Gordon was horrifyingly bad against the Dubs, shooting 1-9 from the floor and ending up with 5 points in 24 minutes. Gordon is kind of like the shooting guard version of Andrew Bogut, in that while his numbers are widely down from where they were a few years ago, his owners can't really complain, as he's managed to avoid getting hurt this year -- as he is wont to do.
- I can't believe I've been doing this for 50 days. Ah, how time flies...