Today’s news of the day centered (no pun intended) around the possibility of Houston’s Omer Asik being dealt by next Wednesday or Thursday. The Rockets have set a December 19th deadline, likely to heat up the bidding war for a very useful (and rare) piece. This is according to the NBA’s David Aldridge, one of the most credible sports journalists around:
ICYMI: Rockets will trade Asik next Wednesday or Thursday. And do not discount Cleveland/Varejao. Would be perfect fit next to Howard.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) December 13, 2013
It has been well documented since Dwight Howard’s arrival in Houston that Asik has been unhappy. And while Asik would be a sexy piece to add to a contender or fringe contender, it’s hard to predict where he may land.
Aldridge suggested a deal with Cleveland that would involve the swap of Asik for Anderson Varejao. While the numbers matchup well, and the Cavaliers have shown serious interest in Asik in the past, it is unlikely they are serious about an Asik/Andy swap. While NBA nerds and Rockets fans might salivate at the thought of a wild Varejao running down long rebounds, flying into the crowd for loose balls and generally irritating the opposing team while Dwight protects the paint, it doesn’t make much sense for Cleveland to bring back Asik.
Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear the Sword explains it in elegant fashion:
The main problem with the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers is their lack of spacing and flow on the offensive end. Asik has no offensive game to speak of and would not help the Cavs’ spacing. Asik just doesn’t really fit on this roster as currently constructed.
Varejao has recently started playing better for the Cavaliers and is the last remaining link to Mike Brown’s former Cavs teams. For a team that is finally starting to figure things out and play together as a team, would it be wise to trade one of the few veteran players away?
After a slow start, Varejao has started to return to his near All-Star form of last season – in 25 games last season he posted averages of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Pretty darn good.
He’s proven he can contribute at a high level as a starter and off the bench, where Mike Brown currently has him slotted. And he’s been giving Cleveland massive production with the second unit and in crunch time since Andrew Bynum was integrated into the starting lineup including an 18 point and 13 rebound performance against Denver last week.
Varejao gives Cleveland a second option when Brown feels a need to give Bynum some rest, or go to a different style of play if he feels Bynum is not suited physically for the matchup. Not to mention he is the only big on Cleveland with a consistent jumper to stretch the floor, something of high importance to Cleveland that Kaczmarek touches on. Bottom line: Cleveland needs scoring from the wing, not defense in the paint.
Marc Stein of ESPN believes that the Rockets would not do a straight up swap of Asik/Andy, and that they would require a future first round pick in addition. Stein breaks down the rest of the contenders — subject to change — for Asik:
Many league insiders maintain that the Rockets’ No. 1 target in an Asik deal is Hawks forward Paul Millsap, who will join more than 100 players who signed contracts in July in becoming trade-eligible Dec. 15, which happens to be Sunday. We caution, though, that gauging the Hawks’ true willingness to part with Millsap — after signing him to a two-year, $19 million deal that increasingly ranks as one of the league’s best bargains — remains a mystery thanks to ever-coy Hawks GM Danny Ferry.
ESPN.com reported last week that the Rockets are determined to trade Asik to an Eastern Conference destination in part to keep his highly rated defense away from current teammate Dwight Howard. Two more teams, then, that continue to be mentioned as potential trade partners for Asik in addition to Atlanta and Cleveland are Philadelphia (Thaddeus Young) and Milwaukee (Ersan Ilyasova).
What do Millsap, Young and Ilyasova have in common? All three can theoretically operate next to Howard as a power forward with the clear ability to play outside and stretch the floor. Let’s see how the fact that Varejao lacks the same range affects Houston’s appetite to pursue such a deal. If the Rockets are intent on completing the best trade they can make by Thursday, they might not wait around for a floor-spacer.
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