The chase for LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony is heating up and the Houston Rockets are aggressively pursuing trades that will give them the cap space to sign one of the superstar free agents going into the 2014-2015 NBA season.
Houston general manager Daryl Morey is set to deliver a cap-clearing move in the next few days and will deal away promising big man Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
New Orleans will send a future first-round pick to Houston for Asik, league source tells Yahoo Sports. Deal will give Rockets cap space.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
Asik is set to earn $14.9M-- with only around $8M counted against the cap in the 2014-2015 season, the final year of his back-loaded deal with Houston. The Turkish big man produced great numbers with his previous team, the Orlando Magic but has never seen consistent time and production playing behind star center Dwight Howard.
For New Orleans, they get a big body to pair with rising star Anthony Davis to form a frontcourt that has the potential to be one of the best defensively in the NBA.
What’s Next for Houston?
While Asik’s big contract is off the books, the Rockets have still $51M committed in 2014-2015— below the projected cap of $63M for the next season but not enough to dole out a huge contract to their target free agent who will most likely demand max or near-max money.
Houston can clear some more cap space by dealing away Jeremy Lin who like Asik also has $14.9M in expiring salary next season. If they are successful in unloading Lin’s contract, they’ll have around $23M to work with for their free agency needs in this offseason.
There are also reports that Morey is willing do a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks centering on Anthony and James Harden. If that is a possibility then Houston has a chance of landing both Melo (via sign-and-trade) and LeBron (via outright FA signing).
Getting both superstars is probably a pipe dream and the best case scenario for the Rockets for now. But by clearing cap space with the Asik trade—and eventually a Lin deal—they at least have a shot of reloading with at least, one big name free agent.