Asik averaged just 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in under 15 minutes per game for the Bulls last season, but he is regarded as one of the league's top defensive players. The Rockets are hoping Asik will break out when given a chance to play more minutes, much like former Magic backup Marcin Gortat did once he was handed the starting job with the Phoenix Suns.
The New York Post's Peter Vecsey reported late Saturday that veteran center Nazr Mohammed, who spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, will sign with the Chicago Bulls instead of the Brooklyn Nets. The indication from that, according to multiple reports, is that Chicago would not match the offer sheet Omer Asik signed with the Houston Rockets.
Asik signed the offer sheet on Friday, and the Bulls had three days to match. The deal was for $25 million over three years, though if Chicago were to match, the third year comes with a $14 million salary cap hit thanks to the "poison pill" clause that Rockets GM Daryl Morey also exploited in the Jeremy Lin chase.
Asik is primarily a defender, though perhaps one of the very best young big man defenders in the league. Mohammed is also renowned for his defense, though he didn't play much in OKC thanks to a deep rotation including noted defender Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
Omer Asik has been given a three-year offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. The deal is structured just like the Jeremy Lin contract, with an exorbitant third year that could prove too much for the Chicago Bulls to match.
Omer Asik's offer sheet with Houston is same terms as Jeremy Lin's -- $5M, $5.2M, $14.9M. Bulls have three days to match.
Earlier reports indicated that the Bulls are unlikely to match the offer within three days, likely sending the restricted free agent center to Houston. Asik is considered one of the better defensive big men in the league, though his game is very limited offensively. He averaged just 3.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game last season.
Once both players clear waivers, the Rockets will have room to add Asik, and he can officially sign his offer sheet, beginning a three-day period in which the Chicago Bulls, who hold Asik's rights as a free agent, can match Houston's deal or negotiate a trade with the Rockets.
Reports have indicated that the Bulls, notoriously stingy with their spending, will not match Asik's deal, including one from a Houston radio host on Wednesday. Asik's offer sheet, still not officially signed, will reportedly be for three years and $25 million, a rich contract for one of the NBA's finer defensive bigs and a limited offensive player.
Asik combined with Taj Gibson to form the best defensive big-man tandem in the league. Asik, who turns 26 on Wednesday, averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and a block in 14 minutes per game. He had been the subject of numerous trade rumors over the past two years because a defensive-stopper type center is always in demand, and his talents have largely been wasted backing up Joakim Noah.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a tradition of camping out to meet with free agents as soon as allowed under NBA rules. In 2010, Morey quickly pitched the Rockets to Chris Bosh. That didn't work. Last summer, the big play was aimed at Marc Gasol. That didn't work. This year, Morey's focused in on Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik. Maybe it will be different?
Here's what Morey tweeted just before midnight ET.
Meeting w/Omer Asik in a few minutes -- tell him how much you want him to be in Houston! He will see your msg live - include #Asik2Houston
Like Gasol a year ago, Asik is a restricted free agent. It's believed that the Bulls will make every reasonable effort to match. Asik's primary draw is as a defender. Houston currently does not have a center on the roster. The Rockets traded Samuel Dalembert to the Bucks last week.