The Houston Rockets have landed Omer Asik after the Chicago Bulls declined to match the three-year $25.1 million contract, which includes the third year “poison pill” that will be just under $15 million. Houston finally fills the hole left by Yao Ming in the interior.
The Bulls decided that the contract the Rockets gave to Asik was to much for a backup center, which is what Asik would have been with the Bulls, as Joakim Noah is their center of the future. The Bulls and Nazr Mohammed also agreed on a contract, which signaled the end of the Bulls, Asik era.
The Rockets and Omer both get what they want. Asik gets a huge contract and a starting spot, while the Rockets finally get a legitimate big man defender. Camby was that guy last year, but for only 19 games. Dalembert had a shaky year for Houston last season. I think he lost his confidence after the Rockets aquired Camby at the trade deadline. With both guys gone, Asik is the only center on the team, barring any trade for Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, the starting job will be Asik’s for the next three seasons.
Asik has a shot at becoming one of the top defensive players in the league, as long as he can stay on the court. Omer does have issues with durability. When he is on the floor he gives it his all, but it was always in random spurts throughout the game. He is a big time shot blocker and rebounder. Daryl Morey considers Asik one of the best interior defenders in the NBA.
“They’ve (Chicago) been the best defensive team in the league the past couple of years,” Morey said of the Bulls. “They’ve been at their best defensively with Omer in the middle, better than with their other bigs on the team. Obviously he’s going against non-starter players often. That said, when he played against starters he played great, and in those limited minutes, even when you adjust for maybe some of the backups he was going against, he was still elite, elite.”
“We think he’s a 10-plus a night rebound guy (and) one of the best defensive bigs in the league. Obviously not many people have seen him play because he did have a limited role there, and time will tell if our scouting that we believe in is right. But we believe in Omer and he believes in himself.”
Last season in a limited role with the Bulls, Asik played in all 66 games and averaged 3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1 block and 0.5 steals in just 14.7 minutes. May not seem like much, but if you double his minutes, which would be about the amount a starter would get, he averages 6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. In fact, in the two games he started Asik averaged 5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2.5 steals and 1.5 assists in 36 minutes a game.
Asik will have a lot of work to do to live up to the huge contract he signed. He is a legit 7ft center, but hasn’t proved he can play starters minutes on a nightly basis. He also needs a lot of work on the offensive end. One of the reasons Asik signed with the Rockets is because of Head Coach Kevin McHale, who had one of the best post games in NBA history. McHale is excited about the opportunity of helping Asik take his game to the next level.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Omer,” McHale said. “I’ve admired his physical style of play over the past two seasons as he’s made the transition to the NBA. In his limited minutes he has proved himself to be an exceptional defensive post player, and we will be working with him to continue to progress.
“Omer has a great understanding of how to play defense and how to move without the ball, and I know he will fit in very well with our needs in the low post.”
Although Asik has a lot of work to do, i like the Rockets being aggressive in signing him, even if he is being overpaid. The Rockets had a hole to fill and they filled it. If Asik, Lin and the young guys play up to their potential the Rockets could sneak into the playoffs.
Omer will help cover up some of the defensive liabilites the Rockets have down low. Will he live up to the hype? GM Daryl Morey thinks so.
“Anytime you can get a defensive presence like him – 7-footer; long; probably the best paint-rim protector short of one or two players in the league the last couple of years; superior rebounder – that’s always a good thing to add no matter what your roster looks like,” Morey said.
“We’ll see. Obviously we believe as we watch him on video, we watch his game and his attitude and his tenacity and his high motor, we think that will translate into a full-time role. Obviously that’s why we have our scouting and we feel that he’s going to take a big step forward this year.”