Once Dwight Howard signed with the Houston Rockets this offseason, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Omer Asik. The Turkish big man clearly read it, and he reportedly asked for a trade soon after, but the request wasn't granted.
Houston was committed to at least giving the Twin Towers look a chance, although it seemed painfully obvious that the spacing on offense would be a major problem. Sure enough, that has proved to be the case, and the defense hasn't been nearly good enough to make up for the offensive issues. In the 93 minutes Asik and Howard have shared the court, the Rockets have posted an offensive rating of 87.3 and a defensive rating of 103.1, per NBA.com's stats page.
With the duo failing to mesh together, Rockets coach Kevin McHale has seemingly ditched the two-center look. McHale opted to start Terrence Jones in an overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, and Asik played just four total minutes in the game, not seeing the floor at all in the second half.
Prior to the Rockets' game Thursday against the New York Knicks, a report out of Houston surfaced saying Asik had once again requested a trade. Asik then didn't play a single minute in a thrilling 109-106 victory, ending a consecutive regular-season games played streak of 239, which had been the longest in the NBA.
The DNP caused some speculation that McHale benched Asik for requesting a trade, but the Rockets coach had his own explanation, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
"I talked to Omer today and I don't know about any trade rumors, but he told me today that he wasn't feeling good and he didn't know if he could play," McHale said. "I asked him, 'Are you ready to play?', and he said, 'I don't feel good,' and that's why we went with Greg (Smith)."
Asik wasn't available for comment after the game, and he hasn't addressed the trade rumors as of yet.
For the time being, it doesn't appear that a trade is imminent. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported late Thursday night that the Rockets have no intention on dealing him. However, it would be silly to let an asset like Asik go to waste on the bench, so one has to imagine that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is working the phones to find a possible deal.
Houston certainly could use some help, whether it be a better fit up front with Howard or perhaps some perimeter defense. Asik proved last season what a valuable commodity he can be, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while almost single handedly keeping the Rockets' defense out of the gutter.
The tricky thing is Asik's contract, which is heavily backloaded in its third season. The Rockets pried Asik away from the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2012 using the "Gilbert Arenas Provision," offering a three-year, $25.1 million deal that would pay him about $5 million in each of the first two seasons and then just under $15 million in the third season. While the cap hit for Asik is only $8.37 million for each year, paying him an actual salary of nearly $15 million next year might not be so appetizing for many teams.
So for now, Asik is just going to have to deal with the situation, as frustrating as it may be. But regardless of what the Rockets say, don't be surprised if a deal is announced in the very near future.