You can’t blame former Bulls center Omer Asik for wanting a change of scenery.
After averaging a double-double in his debut campaign for Houston, when the Rockets acquired free-agent center Dwight Howard, the native of Turkey reportedly wants to play elsewhere.
Although it wasn’t the only reason he left Chicago (approximately $25 million can be fairly convincing), after sitting behind Joakim Noah for his first two NBA seasons—despite getting solid playing time and even finishing games in the playoffs—the fact that he would be the unquestioned starter for the Rockets was certainly a lure for him. Asik had to be aware that Houston was chasing Howard, but when it actually happened, his disappointment in what surely would become a reduced role manifested itself in a trade request.
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Now, Asik is a soft-spoken type, an excellent teammate and someone who values winning, but at only 27 years and in the second season of a third-year deal, it’s understandable that he sees the addition of Howard as possibly stunting his individual development, despite Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, a Hall of Fame big man as a player, professing that the center duo could play together at times.
McHale and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey reportedly won’t trade Asik, but although Houston’s power-forward corps is both thin and inexperienced—second-year players Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, as well as young backup center Greg Smith, are the team’s only other true big men—it’s hard to imagine the two centers, neither of whom excels offensively away from the basket (though with their defensive acumen, it could work on the other end of the floor), playing together, particularly with Houston’s offensive success in transition and behind the three-point line last season, led by All-Star shooting guard James Harden.
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So before the Rockets are anointed as a leading title contender, there are some roster issues to short out—a popular rumor, which has some logic to it, has Houston sending Asik to New Orleans for stretch power forward Ryan Anderson, who previously paired well with Howard in Orlando; the Pelicans could use a presence like Asik next to 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis — even aside from Asik, as the likes of Harden, small forward Chandler Parsons, re-signed veteran swingman Francisco Garcia and the point-guard duo of starter Jeremy Lin and Chicago native Patrick Beverley is a solid group, but not a perimeter unit that collectively strikes fear into formidable opponents.
Still, having arguably the best center and shooting guard is a start. But not only is Asik not content with being a well-compensated backup, it doesn’t make much sense.
Just don’t expect him to return to Chicago — it doesn’t work financially — even if the Bulls have a need for the services he offers.