Pelicans Set to Acquire Omer Asik From Rockets for Future 1st Round Pick

Published: June 25, 2014

Just last summer there were feverish debates amongst Pelicans fans about a rumored deal that would have sent sharpshooter Ryan Anderson to Houston for Omer Asik. Some argued that Anderson’s floor spacing was vital to our offense while others argued that Asik’s rim protection and rebounding was more important to the overall success of our team. Eleven months later, Dell Demps found a way to have his cake and eat it too. According to reports, the Pelicans will send a protected future 1st round pick to Houston in exchange for Omer Asik, who is entering the final year of a three year, $25 million deal. The Rockets, who are poised to make a run at Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James, are doing all they can to open up cap space to add a third star next to Dwight Howard and James Harden.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans buy low on Asik, as it was reported that Houston was seeking out two to three times this level of compensation last summer and in February for one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. In addition to his stellar post defense and rim protection, Asik is one of the best rebounders in the entire NBA. His defensive rebound rate in 2012-13 (31.0), ranked him 2nd in the entire NBA. Last season he plummeted all the way down to third. He has also been a top 20 offensive rebounder each of the last two seasons and finished 2nd in total rebound percentage both last year and the year prior. If you are looking for some combination of rebounding and defense at the center position, his only rivals are DeAndre Jordan, and perhaps his former teammate Dwight Howard.

Over the next few days, we will go more in depth on Asik the player and how he fits. But for now, some broad topics.


This is often misunderstood when it comes to Asik, so let me try to clarify this for everyone. Asik got a 3 yr/$25 million deal from Houston that had a poison pill payment of $15 million in year 3. They did this to keep Chicago from matching, and it was successful. On the salary cap books, it appears as 8.3 million for all three years, but the owner actually pays $5 million the first year, $5 million the second, and $15 million the third. So, Tom Benson will pay Omer Asik $15 million this year, but he will only count for $8.3 million against our cap. The Rockets are also sending the Pelicans $1.5 million in order to help with that balloon payment.

Secondly, I see that some are concerned that he is a free agent after this year. Worry not, because the Pelicans will have full Bird Rights and will be able to go well over the cap to re-sign him if it comes to that. He is likely here as long as we want him here.


There are conflicting reports on the protection, but it appears that it will likely be protected 1-10 and 21-30, meaning that the Rockets only get the pick if it falls between 11 and 20. The Rockets have done this kind of deal before when they sent Kyle Lowry to Toronto, so I can see this being true. If the Pelicans land in either the 1-10 or 21-30 slots, they keep the pick that year and then we play the same game over again until the Rockets get one of our 1st rounders. Again, this is likely the case. I will update as it becomes official.

(Edit: Some reports now saying that the pick goes to Houston if it lands in the 4-19 range, and the Pelicans get it if it is anywhere else. In a lot of ways, this is pretty much the same thing, as only the first three picks are determined by the lottery, and the others for teams who don’t make the playoffs are determined by record. Pretty much everything went wrong for the Pels last year, and they still only finished with the 10th worst record.

On the other end, the Mavericks were the 8th seed last season and they were slotted 21st in the draft this season. Its possible, with how weak the East is, that all the Pelicans have to do is make the playoffs and they can keep their pick. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.)

Our Cap Situation

I have worked the numbers and there is no way this deal can be done as reported without doing some really creative cap gymnastics or trading one of the Finishing Five or Austin Rivers. Those six guys, plus Ajinca, and our cap holds leave the Pelicans with a little less than $7 million in cap room. Even if you find a trade partner for Ajinca, it is not enough. Now, the other way the Pelicans can do this is if they involve a 3rd team and send out a minimum of $5.7 in salaries or send $5.7 million in non-guaranteed salaries to Houston, which they can waive. The Pelicans don’t have $5.7 million in non-guaranteed salaries right now, so that is not how it is going to work.

The most likely outcomes are that the Pelicans have a deal lined up that sends Rivers somewhere else for a pick or they can send Gordon to another team and take less salary back. In either of those cases, they could then absorb Asik into their cap space after renouncing Bird Rights on Aminu, Smith, Roberts, and Miller. The other downfall if they do it this way is that they would lose their MLE. Once you use cap space, you lose your MLE and bi-annual. You have your room exception ($2.8 million), but that is it. It would likely be hard to lure a quality SF with that smaller exception, though they probably could bring back Morrow for that amount.

This is the next shoe to drop, as a Gordon or Rivers trade has to be next to make this work according to my math. In a vacuum, this trade is somewhere in the B- to A+ range, and how exactly it goes down and the other dominoes that tip over as a result will determine where exactly it falls in that range.



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