Here we go. With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony set to hit free agency on July 1st, teams who are interested have started to make moves in order to open up cap space to offer them a max deal. The Houston Rockets join that party by trading center Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans. In exchange, the Rockets will receive a future first round pick.

For Houston, the move is two-fold. First, Asik became a redundant asset after the team signed Dwight Howard last offseason. The team tried to pair the two big men together, but the experiment didn’t go as planned. By mid-season, Asik wanted out and Morey tried to meet his request by holding what was essentially a bidding for Asik with a team-imposed deadline. However, the asking price was deemed too high by the opposing teams and Asik remained with the Rockets. Asik is one of the best rim protectors in the league, and just a year removed from averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while starting all 82 games for the Rockets. It’s easy to see how a combination of Anthony Davis and Asik could work, especially if Davis continues to improve on his perimeter game.

But the second, and main, reason for the Rockets to make this move now is to get Asik’s contract off their books. He is due approximately $15 million next year, but will count for only $8.3 million against the cap. This creates additional cap space for the Rockets to pursue either LeBron or ‘Melo in free agency.

In order to have cap space to make a near max offer of $19 million, the Rockets still have to make several other moves, most notably trading Jeremy Lin, who is also due approximately $15 million next season. Houston is planning a full court press on LeBron and ‘Melo when July 1st hits. Somewhere, Morey is rubbing his hands together like Birdman, ready to go after the biggest prize on the market again.

 

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