We're less than three weeks into the Dwight Howard era in Houston and his Twin Tower partner reportedly wants out already.
With his starting job gone and his playing time slashed, Rockets center Omer Asik has asked to be traded, two individuals with knowledge of the request said Thursday. ... The Rockets have no trade involving Asik in the works, with one individual saying a deal is more likely in months than in days.
“I would say the situation is very frustrating right now and were trying to work through it,” [Asik's agent Andy] Miller said. “For Omer, the objective has always been to continue to develop and grow as a player. That’s why we came to Houston in the first place. If that objective can’t be met, if we can’t get the right platform to grow and contribute as a player, it’s certainly frustrating.”
Asik, 27, was Houston's full-time starter last season, appearing in all 82 games and averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 30 minutes per game. When Howard decided to spurn the Lakers and sign with the Rockets, reports indicated that Asik was seeking a trade. Instead, Houston coach Kevin McHale opted to start both Howard and Asik to open the season, an approach he stuck with until this week, when the seven-foot Turkish center was shifted to a reserve role.
This season, Asik is averaging 5 points and 7.2 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes per game. Howard, meanwhile, is averaging 18.2 points and a league-best 14.9 rebounds per game in 36.8 minutes per game.
Following a 5-4 start, it's understandable why Kevin McHale is investigating his options at the position, a process that saw second-year forward Terrence Jones move into the starting lineup this week. In eight appearances together, the Howard/Asik combination has struggled, to say the least. Per NBA.com/stats, the pair has put up an offensive rating of 87.3 (way, way down from Houston's overall offensive rating of 103.9) and a defensive rating of 103.1 (worse than Houston's overall defensive rating of 100.2).
There's little question that the spacing issues many feared would arise by using the two big men together have proven to be accurate, and the jumbo-sized lineup hasn't been able to compensate on the other end. The early returns strongly suggest that their minutes need to be heavily staggered, which is easier said than done given how Howard's heavy playing time load.
The Houston Chronicle reported in July that Rockets GM Daryl Morey had no plans to trade Asik despite the early reports he wanted out. Then, in September, the paper quoted McHale saying that Asik was "a player" whose "job is to come in and play" rather than "wonder" how Howard's arrival affects his position on the team. The Point Forward's Rob Mahoney identified Asik as one of the top 2013-14 trade targets back in October and The Point Forward labeled Houston's power forward position as one of the key battles to watch entering the season. Howard ranked No. 7 in SI.com's Top 100 of 2014 list; Asik ranked No. 69.