Two years ago Jeremy Lin was a rising star on the New York Knicks. He then signed a free agent contract with the Houston Rockets, where he became the starting point guard and later moved to the sixth man position. Omer Asik was the starting center when Lin arrived in Houston. However, Asik was displaced by the signing of Dwight Howard. Now the Knicks are trying to put a package together to trade for both of them.
It's February 13. The trade deadline is February 20. This is prime-time rumor mill time. Some rumors that come out are more legitimate than others. Some are just ridiculous. Others, like this, has some truth to them. However, something to keep in mind is that just because one team desires to acquire players and one team desires to trade their assets doesn't always make them a match.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey has asked a lot for Asik all season long. He should. He's in a position of power with a skilled big man who is under control for another two seasons after this one is over. He also shouldn't let Lin go cheaply. It could save Houston a lot of money to trade Asik and Lin but they're also impact players on their roster. That's not something you give away without compensation.
Asik want out of Houston. He believes he's on the verge of becoming and All-Star center and shouldn't have to sit behind Howard or shift to power forward to play beside him. The biggest obstacle of trading him is finding a team willing to pay him the $14,898,938.
There's little doubt that the Knicks would love to bring Asik to New York. He's four years younger than Tyson Chandler who projects as a relatively even scorer as Chandler but a better rebounder Per-36.
However, at 7'0", 230 pounds he has a better, wider frame than Chandler with a solid lower body and a 7'2" wingspan. Asik plays with a great motor, is a serious player with fairly nice athleticism. He finishes nicely around the rim, has a developing mid-range game and is an active defender.
Lin has played well for Houston. but his and James Harden's skill sets work better separately so Lin has found himself coming off the bench. There's little doubt that he'd prefer to be a starter. Clearly he'd be an upgrade to Raymond Felton. However, Lin is also scheduled to make $14,898,938 next season.
Probably the biggest problem is the Knicks lack of trade assets. The fact that Asik and Lin both make so much next season shouldn't worry the Knicks. They are over the cap anyway so going further over shouldn't matter. The fact that both of their contracts end after next season is also attractive. The Knicks could always re-sign them but it allows them to go in another direction in the 2015 free agent market if they decide.
Lauren Moranor of Sports World Report passed on word that David Thrope of ESPN thinks the Knicks could be a match in trade with the Rockets.
ESPN's David Thrope suggests the Knicks could be the team that makes the last minute offer on Asik to take him off the Rockets' hands. The team has been searching for depth in the front court as several injuries have plagued the team in recent weeks. With Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace in and out of the lineup, Asik would be a welcomed presence.
The issue for the Knicks is putting together a worthy package considering they have very few assets they can afford to part with. Thorpe suggests Tim Hardaway Jr. would be a lock to get traded for the center. The reporter also notes that Tyson Chandler could be included if another player like Jeremy Lin was included.
What do the Knicks have to offer? Unfortunately the have almost no draft picks to offer. Talent? Well Tim Hardaway Jr. would almost have to be any swap with Houston. Iman Shumpert is likely to be another popular target.
A package of Hardaway Jr., Shumpert, Felton and Chandler works money-wise. Would the Knicks be willing to trade their two best young options in order to make this trade happen?
Would Houston even deem that enough? Knowing the Knicks they'd likely end up giving Houston a future first round pick or two as well. Are they worth it? That question can only be answered with a yes if acquiring Asik and Lin would make Carmelo Anthony happy and the Knicks intend on keeping them in New York beyond their contracts.
If their acquisitions didn't make Anthony happy they'd remain in trouble of losing him after he opts-out this off-season. Remember, Anthony didn't seem so happy with Lin when he was here. They'd also only be clearing up $9,743,211 (Felton's $4,540,000 — Hardaway Jr.'s $1,304,520 Team Option — Shumpert's $3,898,691 Qualifying Offer).
Sure, clearing up approximately $10 million would help the Knicks re-build with or without Anthony. However, given the chance New York would likely love to have Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert as part of that future. So they'd have to decide if clearing up that money would be worth going forward without their two best young players.
It's an interesting dilemma the Knicks find themselves in. Asik is an upgrade to Chandler. Lin would be an upgrade to Felton. However, Hardaway Jr. is a sharp-shooter with a bright future and Shumpert is the Knicks best perimeter defender.
On top of that, there's just no telling if that's enough. The Houston Rockets are asking for a lot more around the league and unless they are willing to settle for the chance to shed those large contracts they could very well laugh this offer off.
The truth is, the Knicks don't have the overwhelming pieces to pull big trades off. They've sent too many draft picks away and they've collected too many undesirable contracts. This trade would come down to Houston's desire to shed salary next season.
However, with Chandler scheduled to make $14,596,888 next season they'd only be saving $6,829,235 next season and would be taking on an additional $9,743,211 in the 2015-16 season. That just doesn't seem like much of a deal for them.
In the end, Asik and Lin would help New York but they wouldn't make the Knicks contenders and it's very unlikely that they have enough trade assets to acquire them from Houston anyway. Don't start digging out your old Linsanity jerseys or ordering custom Asik jerseys from the NBA store online.
This is just another one of those rumors that happen this time of year. Very little traction, lots of one-sided desire and more talk than action. Don't hold your breath. This probably isn't happening.
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