Omer Asik, still a Houston Rocket for now, returned to practice on Monday. The center is expected to be in the lineup against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. Last Wednesday, he played only four minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers, then received a DNP against the New York Knicks on Thursday and sat out of Saturday's game against the Denver Nuggets. Asik reportedly requested a trade on Thursday and it was far from the first time his preference to be moved elsewhere has been made clear.
Coach Kevin McHale had no comment about Asik's current situation with the team - the trade request and lack of playing time, but did say that the center had a strong day at practice on Monday.
"I thought he practiced hard, got back and had a good day," McHale said. "It's important that he gets back out, starts playing, gets in rhythm, and back with his teammates."
Asik did not speak to the media following practice, but his teammates expressed some support, via Jason Friedman of Rockets.com:
[Dwight Howard:] "He apologized for it and we have to move on. We can't dwell on it. We can't make it an issue. Like I said, we have to love him at the point where he is now and keep on loving him. It's a tough situation and we all have to be understanding and empathize with him and keep moving forward."
[Chandler Parsons:] "I'm happy (to have Asik back). We can use him and obviously he's been a big part of our team - he had a great year last year. Like I said before, I understand his frustrations and how it would be difficult - he wants to play. But he's here, he's on the Rockets, so he should be practicing with us and playing with us and trying to help us win games."
"I'm not (just) his teammate, I'm his friend so I'm talking to him and telling him that we need him and want him. I understand where he's coming from but at the end of the day, be a professional, come to work every day and handle your business.
Asik is a starting-caliber center but has been an awkward fit with Dwight Howard in Houston. It's a good thing that he's back with the team, but it'd be best for all parties if this situation was resolved as soon as possible with a trade.