3 signs of validation for the Rockets' front office

2023 NBA Summer League - Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets
2023 NBA Summer League - Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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2. Rockets deal Omer Asik before Pels extension

After barely missing the postseason in 2012, the Houston Rockets realized the need to bolster their roster. The Rockets signed Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, before trading for James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Asik had been a reserve with the Chicago Bulls, who had one of the best centers in the league at the time in Joakim Noah,  and welcomed the opportunity to be a starting center elsewhere. The Rockets gave Asik a three-year deal worth $25.1 million, which proved to be a bargain deal almost instantly.

Asik averaged 10 points and 11.7 rebounds in his first year as a full-time starter, leading the league in games played and total rebounds in 2012-13. Asik also finished fourth in total offensive rebounds, while providing to be a formidable defender.

Although the Turkish big man played well for the Rockets, the franchise sought an opportunity to improve at the center position, adding Dwight Howard, who was one of the best centers in the entire league at the time. The Rockets were disinterested in trotting out a double big lineup (rightfully so), so they decided to deal Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for a first-round pick.

One year later, the Pels gave Asik an extension, which is how they landed on Yardbarker's list.

"The Rockets poached Omer Asik from the Bulls with a poison pill contract in 2012, where the third year of the deal spiked greatly in value. They managed to pawn off the final year of the deal onto the New Orleans Pelicans, who sent back a first-round pick, one of many they sent away in the Anthony Davis era.

Then they compounded the error by giving Asik four years and $44 million guaranteed, with incentives that could have made it worth $60 million for five years. (Asik did not come anywhere near these incentives.) After the first year, Asik barely played despite Davis' aversion to playing center.
They did manage to flip him for Nikola Mirotic in 2018, which cost them (what else?) a first-round pick.

Asik was another example of the Rockets knowing what they had on their hands and how to maximize that value. The Pelicans giving Asik a near $60 million contract extension and not getting anything considerably close to that level of play on the court is validation for the Rockets' front office.