The Houston Rockets made life miserable for Knicks fans about a week ago when James Dolan decided not to match the 3 year $25.125 million offer sheet for Jeremy Lin. I’ll admit I got a little choked up. I was excited to see what Lin could do in orange and blue for a full season, but the Rockets took that away from me. Now that the Chicago Bulls have decided not to match the offer sheet the Rockets laid out for Omer Asik, Houston has another 3 year $25 million man ($25.1 to be exact). Somehow I don’t think Bulls fans are too upset.
After 2 years in the league, Omer Asik has compiled averages of 2.9 ppg and 4.4 rpg as a role player coming off the bench. He’s a solid rebounder and defender, but lacks scoring ability on the offensive end of the court. The deal is backloaded, much like the Lin deal, in that Omer is set to make $5 million this season, $5.2 million next season and $14.9 million in year 3. Yup. Both Lin and Asik will be making $14.9 million in 2014. Houston, we have a problem.
While we’ve seen what Lin can do when given ample playing time, we’ve yet to see Omer Asik in such a role as he projects to be the Rockets starting center entering the 2012 NBA season. Let’s take a look at Asik’s stats extrapolated over 36 minutes (based on his career averages):
A few things stand out to me. Let’s start with the good. 12 rebounds per game would put Asik #3 overall in the NBA behind Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. 2.3 blocks per game would put him #2 overall behind Serge Ibaka. That’s not good, that’s excellent. While stat extrapolation is simple mathematics and not a completely reliable prediction, those numbers seem very promising for Asik.
Now for the bad. 5 fouls per game would rank Asik #1 overall in the NBA in a category you don’t want to be #1 in. How is he going to grab all those boards and block all those shots if he’s sitting out due to foul trouble? 2.4 turnovers per game would tie Omer Asik with Greg Monroe for 4th worst for NBA centers, and 8 points per game would rank Asik #124 overall, thus highlighting his offensive shortcomings.
I expect Asik to be a 10 and 10 type player with starter minutes, but there’s likely to be many bumps along the way. This could turn out to be a horrid season for a young Houston team. I don’t think the Rockets intended on signing both Lin and Asik, and ended up getting stuffed with both players when the Knicks and Bulls brass decided not to match the offer sheets. With the addition of these two players, the 2012-2013 Houston Rockets starting lineup projects to be:
PG Jeremy Lin
SG Kevin Martin
SF Chandler Parsons
PF Donatas Motiejunas
C Omer Asik
I don’t think the Lakers, Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies or any team in the West for that matter is shaking in their boots. Houston just missed the playoffs last year with 34 wins in a 66 game season. This lineup doesn’t look like it can win 34 games in a 82 game season. The Rockets played with fire offering inexperience players solid contacts, and they’ll have to deal with the consequences.