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Should The Celtics Trade for Omer Asik?

 

As was pointed out earlier this morning in an insightful piece by our own Hayes Davenport, news that the Boston Celtics may be involved in the Omer Asik sweepstakes is interesting, cool, concerning, and irrational. As some of you know, I’ve covered the Houston Rockets over at Red94 for the past three seasons, and have watched every minute Asik’s spent in the middle over there.

I thought he was the second or third best defensive player in the league last season: a wrecking ball guarding the pick-and-roll, a barbed wire fence at the rim, and an elite rebounder on both ends of the floor. He’s such a good player. Before Dwight Howard took his spot in the starting lineup, Asik was a wonderful fit in Houston’s blistering pace-and-space system. He set monster screens (for James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, etc.) both on the ball and away from it, and was actually quite effective rolling to the basket in the pick-and-roll.

Unfortunately, all is not well with Asik’s game on the offensive end. His hands often mutate into bricks when the ball comes anywhere near them, which is a problem. And in terms of shear tragedy, his post-game is more or less comparable to “Marley and Me.” But surround Asik with a bunch of shooters and a point guard who can feed him the ball near the rim and you’ll be onto something.

Now, let’s pretend Stein’s report is precise and a deal is on the horizon. Onto the questions you’re interested in having answered. How does Asik help this and next year’s Celtics? What would it mean if Boston actually acquired him? How would it affect their reconstruction? And what’s fair to ship outbound in exchange for a big man who, as Hayes pointed out, will hit the market in 2016 at the age of 29, looking for a three to four year deal that could cost somewhere between $36 and $50 million (using Andrew Bogut’s recent extension as a helpful benchmark).

First things first, the Celtics are already a top-10 defense without a single legitimate source of rim protection. That’s insane, and Asik would only make the team better. Getting into specifics, the Eastern Conference has a few centers who positively impact the offensive end—Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Andre Drummond, and Andrew Bynum (that last name was a bad joke; please keep reading and accept my dearest apology)—as well as a batch of guards and wings who make their name attacking the rim. Asik helps there.

He would turn the crater in Boston’s frontcourt into a stable foundation, allowing Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk  to play power forward, their natural position. (The Celtics would be a monstrosity on the glass with units featuring Sullinger and Asik, especially.) And pairing him with a point guard like Rajon Rondo, who can finish plays with brilliant dump off passes and easy-to-handle lobs on the pick-and-roll, would be great. Rondo makes teammates better on the offensive end, and Asik could greatly use the assistance.

All this is well and true, but is it worth it? Should the Celtics want to get better right now? Despite a solid start to what most believed would be The Season From Hell, it remains very early in the year, and Danny Ainge would still be wise to cash out well before he even thinks about going all in.

In terms of what Boston would be willing to surrender in a deal, any draft pick from 2014 should be off limits unless what’s coming back is a hopeful prospect who’s early on his rookie scale contract. (For example, Harrison Barnes). Asik is not that player.

If the Celtics are willing to move a future first-round pick—say, the unprotected 2015 first-rounder they received from the Los Angeles Clippers for Doc Rivers—along with Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani, then things become a bit more acceptable, but still not ideal. And given the upcoming player option he likely opts out of in two years, moving Jeff Green for anything that doesn’t make Boston better down the road wouldn’t be wise.

Asik is wonderful. A fantastic piece who’d fit in well with Boston’s players, coaches, and system. But thanks to financial particulars, it’s almost impossible to justify his acquisition as a positive stand alone transaction. The timing just isn’t right. And in the NBA, timing can be everything.

Michael Pina has bylines at Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Bleacher Report, Sports On Earth, and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.

  • hax

    If Faverani ends up in a trade for Asik, I'd be very disappointed. He's better than Asik, younger, can hit 3's, when Asik can barely hit lay-ups. Plus he is on a mid-length deal worth nothing, promising us at least a back-up center that can play well for years to come.

  • John

    It's going to be all about value. This board is divided between tankers and anti-tankers. But that's not how management makes its decisions. The idea is if it's a good value trade, you make it, if it's not, you don't make it. Even it just means flipping Asik to a third team and getting better assets in return.

    • roadsidenotes

      You wouldn't send Faverani to Houston, you'd send Bogans. Bogans, Bass and the 2015 Clips pick. Celtics already have three picks in that draft and can afford to part with one of them for a solid piece.

      And John's exactly right. A smart GM makes deals that are good values, and Bass+Bogans+2015 Clips pick is a good value. Green+pick isn't, Green straight up isn't. Bass+Faverani+pick isn't.

      And forget about dumping Wallace, Morey won't bite. He's trading Asik to get rid of salary obligations next year. You'll have to find a less savvy GM to take Wallace.

  • Chris

    If Houston is looking to win now Bass and Wallace would be the type of role players the Rockets need to compete for a title. This type of deal would require Boston to receive Asik and Jeremy Lin in return to make it work out financially…. Boston would have to over pay Lin for an 8 million dollar price tag on an expiring contract for next season but its a better alternative than to paying Wallace10 mill per thru the 2015/16 season.

    • roadsidenotes

      I'd agree with this, but I don't think that Morey will take Wallace's contract. That contract, the product of a stupid GM, will need to be offloaded on another stupid GM.

  • morey

    LEAVE ASIK ALONE, HE'S NOT WORTH TRADING FOR

  • morey

    No no no
    This is a step backwards

  • janos

    micheal is janos
    you do usuals great job write us nba celtics but am concern me you are now look bring in player houston ?

  • Matt

    I say 3 way deal between boston – 76ers – houston. Rockets get bass,(filler player), clipps 1st rounder. 76ers get asik. Celtics get Nerlens Noel. We get a Center for next season that is athletic and can run the new uptempo celtics style that can devour boards with sully.

    • hax

      Pretty solid deal for all three teams.

      • roadsidenotes

        Why would the Sixers trade Noel for Asik?

      • Morpheus

        It is?

  • hax

    Also want to point out that Rondo has about 5 more years in his prime, where he can and will improve his game. Waiting for draft picks to learn what the NBA is about will take up Rondo's prime years. So it wouldn't be surprising at all for Ainge to swap these picks for a somewhat-contending team. He did it with the Big 3. His ex-partner McDonough over in Phoenix is dangling their picks around for a star as well. His friend Morey did it with Harden. Trading picks for guys who are already stars is how you build an instant contender. Hoping for a free agency extravaganza like the Heat, or hitting draft gold like the Thunder is much more rare.

  • Ping

    The fact someone said Vitor Faverani is better than Omer Asik says it all.

    Asik is vastly underrated, especially in these forums. He is arguably a top 5 defender and rebounder. Not off the bench, not for backups. In the NBA. His +/- numbers and team PPP numbers have been consistently great. He makes most every unit he plays with a plus defensively.

    What Ainge gives Houston to acquire Asik is a fair debate, and Pina's question of timing is a good one. I don't necessarily think Asik would vault Boston to the 3rd seed or ruin any of our tankers' aspirations. Bass, Green, or others would be going out. Thing is, these opportunities are what improve franchises long term. Asik is a great piece, one that would justify moving some assets for. Just depends on the cost.

    • hax

      Fav's offense is much better. He can hit 3's, while Asik's range is about 5 feet. Asik is better on defense. But Fav is 2 years younger, and on a cheap deal. I'm just saying I don't want Fav going in a trade for Asik. I'd rather have him off the bench for Asik here in Boston. :)

  • Ping

    I agree, Faverani has at least shown enough to warrant a longer look, but I personally wouldn't hesitate including him in a good deal for Asik (for me, that means no Green or multiple 1sts).

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