After the Rockets struck out on their pursuit of Dwight Howard in March 2012 and the following summer, they seemed to have moved on. Howard was not coming to Clutch City and had no interest in doing so.
So the Rockets signed Omer Asik to a three-year, $25.1 million contract. He was to be the team's defensive anchor after two strong years in Chicago as a defensive player. When the Rockets acquired James Harden, the move seemed to make more sense as they had the perfect pick and roll complement.
That move also attracted Dwight Howard back to Houston. That pursuit thought to be dead? It was not and the Rockets got their man and more in the end.
Where does that leave Asik with two more years left on his deal at about $8.4 million per year?
One place it leaves him is out of the starting lineup and unhappy. And that led Asik to request a trade out of Houston. The Rockets center does not like the idea of being a backup once again. However, the Rockets do not seem ready to part ways with him.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports the Rockets have turned down offers to acquire Asik or pursuit of an Asik trade despite Asik formally requesting a trade. Houston appears to believe that Asik is more valuable as Howard's backup, too valuable to give up in a Western Conference that only looks to be getting more competitive.
Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last season for the Rockets, starting in all 82 games. He was not as strong defensively as his offense increased however. He still seemed to be a strong compelment for Harden and the Rockets pick-and-roll-based offense. If Howard has to leave a game, Asik would easily be able to fill in without missing a beat.
That is something the Rockets surely do not want to part with. Good centers are hard to find. Right now the Rockets have two.
The question for Houston is whether an unhappy Asik can still help the Rockets or whether he would hurt the locker rom chemistry. Winning seems to cover up many warts and Houston is expected to win with Dwight Howard. Maybe that would quiet Asik down.
But if Asik wanted to win and play off the bench, he might have stayed in Chicago. He wants to play and earned the opportunity Houston appeared to be giving him.
That makes things tough for Asik. This is not what he signed up for. But it is also wat he has to deal with, at least for two more years if the Rockets do not trade him.