The 2014 NBA trade deadline has passed and, somewhat surprisingly, Omer Asik is still a member of the Houston Rockets. While there were never reports that the Rockets were close to a deal leading up to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, it was only logical that Houston general manager Daryl Morey would be exploring his options.
From the moment center Dwight Howard signed with the Rockets in July, it was assumed that Asik's days in Houston were numbered. A year prior to Howard's arrival, Asik signed a three-year, $25 million contract to be the franchise's starting center. The 45-37 Rockets exceeded expectations in 2012-13, with James Harden leading the offense and Asik anchoring a defense that fell apart when he went to the bench. Ironically, Houston's strong showing last season was part of what attracted Howard, who said that he believed the Rockets would give him the best chance to chase a championship.
Houston started the season playing Asik and Howard together, but it didn't work out. The Rockets put a stop to that experiment after eight games, and around then the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen reported that Asik asked for a trade. He played only four minutes on Nov. 13 against Philadelphia, then sat out entirely for two games before working his way back into the rotation as Howard's backup. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Asik had been requesting to be moved "pretty much once a week" after the Howard signing.
Knowing the value of Asik's rim protection, Morey elected to hold onto him until an in-house Dec. 19 deadline, reportedly ready to accept a three-team trade including the Philadelphia 76ers if no better offers came through.
That didn't come to pass, obviously, and Morey's plan did not work. Asik is still on the roster, playing a role for which he's overqualified. Several observers suggested that the Portland Trail Blazers should go after him to fortify their defense, and many teams had interest in his services, but not one of them was willing to offer the Rockets what they wanted. There would likely have been a different outcome if Asik had a different sort of contract -- the team acquiring him would have had to pay him $15 million next year. It's safe to assume Houston will put him on the trade block again at the conclusion of the season.
It would have been best for both Asik and the Rockets to sever ties. The big man had been excellent in limited minutes for two years with the Chicago Bulls before signing with Houston, then proved he belonged in the starting lineup last season. It will be at least a little while before he's back where he belongs.