HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Rockets are looking to add a third “superstar” this off-season. And with both Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony reportedly opting out of their contracts this summer, the Rockets have a chance to sign one of the two.

“Paul, I already know all this. Thanks for wasting my time with a two sentence introductory paragraph.”

You’re welcome.

Wait a second, check that. The Rockets can only sign one of those guys if they free up the necessary cap space.

“Paul…bro…we knew that too…you filibustering turd.”

But did you know that the Rockets have $64,036,925 going towards the cap? And that in order to free up the necessary space to sign a max deal, they need to find a way to ship off center Omer Asik (counting $8,374,646 against the cap in ’14) and guard Jeremy Lin (also counting $8,374,646 against the cap in ’14) before buying out other players.


The “poison pill” deals the Rockets signed Asik and Lin to in 2012 are the biggest obstacles in moving the two. Sure, their cap figures aren’t awful – like paying the corpse formerly known as Amar’e Stoudemire $45.09 million over the next years. You can rationalize paying a rim protector and rebounder like Asik that kind of money. It’s tougher to do the same with the inconsistent Lin – especially with Linsanity well behind him. But I imagine ~ $8 million to rent a scorer isn’t an IMPOSSIBLE sell.

The problem is finding an owner willing to pay MORE than that cap figure. Whatever team takes Lin or Asik aboard will have to pay each player $14,898,938 for that one year lease.

Again, I feel some team would be willing to pay that for a big like Asik. Centers are always in demand…and are usually overpaid. Unfortunately, paying nearly $15 million for Lin would be tough for many teams to stomach. He’s too inconsistent.

Still, it wouldn’t be impossible. The 2011 CBA provides that teams must spend at least 90% of the salary cap – projected to be $63.2 Million this coming season – meaning teams must pay ~$56.9 Million towards the cap. If they don’t spend that much, they’d be “punished” by paying up to meet that minimum threshold. Salary dumps aren’t quite as prevalent in today’s NBA. But there will likely be at least one team willing to take on contracts so the money they pay to meet that minimum isn’t going towards nothing.

“Four paragraphs to explain the Poison Pill deal that WE STILL KNEW ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO? BRO. GET ON WITH YOUR FREAKING POINT.”

Whoop…here it is. I looked at every NBA franchise with the cap space to take on EITHER Asik or Lin’s contract. And since the Rockets wouldn’t want to take on any new contracts, I listed the draft picks that each team has as assets to send in exchange for either of the two.

What are Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin worth? That’s open for debate. I think a big man like Asik’s value maxes out in the mid to late first round. An inconsistent player like Lin is probably worth a second round pick, probably trending towards the latter half.

That said, I don’t think you’re looking to get the max value you can for those two (like Morey was trying to get for Asik in the middle of this past season). You take whatever you can get to free up the cap space. So what destinations make them most sense?


Philadelphia 76ers
Cap Number (As Of 6-24): $32,569,116
Draft Picks
2014: 3rd, 10th (Pelicans), 32nd, 39th (Cavaliers), 47th (Nets), 52nd (Grizzlies), 54th (Rockets) Overall
2015: No 1st rd (Celtics), 3 2nd rds (Own, Pelicans, Warriors)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 2 2nd rds (Own, Nuggets)

First, the obvious. Sixers General Manager Sam Hinkie was second in command to Rockets GM Daryl Morey (serving as vice president from 2007-2013). The two obviously have a relationship, having worked together in Houston and making a deal together this past off-season (Rockets traded Royce White to Philly last year).

Second. The Sixers have more picks than they know what to do with, and doesn’t seem like they are in a rush to compete anytime soon. They have a potential post presence in Nerlens Noel. But he missed all of last season with a torn ACL he suffered at Kentucky. I doubt Philly wants to give him a ton of minutes right away, and acquiring Omer Asik would give them a one year rental to help him ease into a starter’s role.

Meanwhile, outside of Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers have no guards worth a damn. Adding Lin would give the Sixers a decent scoring threat every night, and allow the taller 6’6 Carter-Williams flexibility to play off the ball and match up with taller shooting guards. Though…you’d have to stomach Lin playing defense

Philly makes so much sense that it hurts. They have limited depth. They need to meet that minimum threshold. Tons of draft picks. And don’t forget the Morey – Hinkie connection. The only question is whether Sixers owner Josh Harris would pay nearly $30 million for one year of two guys that aren’t worth that.

Detroit Pistons
Cap Number: $42,177,875
Draft Picks
2014: 38th Overall
2015: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

The Pistons are in a weird situation. They any good – obvious with the 8th worst record in the NBA this past season. Yet they still have two contracts worth about ~$8 million (Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey) coming off the books. With no first round pick this season, they strike me as a team that could be willing to take on one of the ~$8.4 million cap hits and pay the ~$15 million salary for a one year rental.

Omer Asik doesn’t seem to be a possibility. We remember how new coach Stan Van Gundy operated in Orlando. He runs a one in, four out offense with four guys on the perimeter. That “in” is Andre Drummond (especially with Greg Monroe unlikely to be resigned). Asik would ONLY be able to be an “in” in that system with his limited offense.

However, Jeremy Lin COULD fit in Detroit as a one year rental. If Van Gundy wants shooters spread outside around Drummond, Lin would fit that mold. Though inconsistent, he shot nearly 36% from outside this past season, better than all Pistons except Kyle Singler (38%). He’s also better at getting to the rim than Brandon Jennings. Neither can play a lick of defense, and once again, it’s just a matter of whether Detroit would be willing to pay ~$15 million to a guy who isn’t worth that kind of cheddar.

Dallas Mavericks
Cap Number (As Of 6-24): $31,250,100
Draft Picks
2014: 34th (Celtics), 51st Overall
2015: 1 1st rd Own), 2 2nd rds (Own)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 2 2nd rds (Own, Grizzlies)

This cap figure is a bit misleading with Dirk Nowitzki a free agent. I have a hard time seeing Dirk play anywhere other than Dallas – where he’s spent his whole career. He said he’d likely stay earlier this year. If he were to take a discount, the Mavs could be competing with the Rockets for the likes of ‘Melo and Lebron.

It might seem like a stretch for the Rockets to trade in division, and even more of one for the Mavs to facilitate Houston landing a third star. But Dirk’s career is fast coming to a close, and he needs some help. Dallas desperately needs a front court presence, and adding a rim protector and rebounder like Omer Asik (maybe in exchange for the 34th pick this year, or a first rounder in one of the coming drafts) would be a HUGE upgrade over the likes of Samuel Dalembert and Dejuan Blair. He could be acquired for a bargain, and we all know Mark Cuban can foot the near $15 million bill for the coming season. With Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Asik, and plenty of cap space, the Mavs would certainly be an attractive destination for any of the top free agents this offseason…if not the most.

I doubt Jeremy Lin would draw any interest from Cuban though. The Mavs are stacked with guards, (Ellis, Vince Carter, Jose Calderon, and last year’s 18th selection Shane Larkin) and Lin wouldn’t be worth that kind of investment.


Cleveland Cavaliers
Cap Number: $47,161,117
Draft Picks:
2014: 1st, 33rd (Magic) Overall
2015: 2 1st rds (Grizzlies, Heat, Traded own to Chicago) 1 2nd rd (own)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

There are A TON of possibilities in Cleveland this offseason. They could draft Andrew Wiggins OR Jabari Parker. Or could throw a curve ball and draft Joel Embiid for whatever reason. And they consider themselves a possibility in the Lebron James sweepstakes.

If they don’t get Lebron, and don’t shock the world by drafting Embiid, they could use an upgrade at center. And I think Asik would be an upgrade over Anderson Varejao, a player who’s rumored to be on the block as Cleveland tries to clear space. Varejao is 31. Asik is 27. It can’t hurt to see what he’d give you at center for one year rental and resign him if he succeeds.

Cleveland’s guard situation seems set on paper, but there have been plenty of rumors about a possible rift between Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. If Waiters gets shipped off, the Cavaliers would have a clear need for a sixth man. There are likely better, cheaper options in free agency, but if the Cavs are looking for a one year rental to be that guy, Lin would be an expensive choice. But a choice none the less.

Jeez…I’m really trying to talk Cleveland into this awful latter scenario. But do it anyway guys? Please? K Thanks.

Phoenix Suns
Cap Number: $31,709,007
Draft Picks
2014: 14th, 18th (Wizards), 27th (Pacers), 50th
2015: 3 1st rds (Own, Timberwolves, Lakers), 1 2nd rd (Own)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

A source told me Omer Asik wouldn’t be a very good fit with the Suns. He’s too slow and doesn’t have the offensive skill set Phoenix likes out of their bigs. They’d probably prefer an athletic and cheap option like last years 5th overall pick Alex Len to develop into that role.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin actually could be a possibility in Phoenix. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are one of the most lethal guard combinations in the NBA. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent, but outside of some sort of trade for Kevin Love (unlikely), Phoenix would be foolish to trade him. Still, with two injuries to his right meniscus already over his four year career, the Suns would be wise to add some guard depth. And they have none. They can address this in the draft, but with four picks, why not use one (I don’t think Morey would have a problem taking the 50th pick) to rent Lin for a year as depth? He’d help them get towards the minimum salary threshold, and would be adequate depth at the very least for both Dragic and Bledsoe. Better that than non-existent depth.

Los Angeles Lakers
Cap Number: $36,259,471
Draft Picks
2014: 7th overall
2015: No picks (1st to Phoenix, 2nd to Orlando)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

Let’s be honest, the Lakers are 100% going after any big free agent they can possibly get. The reason their cap figure is so low is because they only have five guys on roster.

Still, the Lakers need to be honest with themselves. Kobe Bryant’s contract is a giant albatross (due $48.5 million the next two years), especially with his best days behind him PLUS an achilles tear and knee fracture in the same year. I don’t think they have a real shot at any of these big names this offseason.

If they come to that same realization, they’d at least have the money to pay Asik and Lin. Of the two, I think Asik would be easiest to stomach as a salary dump. But they’d have to trade future draft picks to acquire him, and they only have three picks in the next three years. I doubt they’ll throw more away for one or two one year rentals.


Milwaukee Bucks
Cap Number $47,883,840
Draft Picks
2014: 2nd, 31st, 36th (Lakers), 48th (Raptors)
2015: 1 1st rd (Own), 3 2nd rds (Own, Hornets, Clippers)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

The Bucks are investing a lot at center with Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia set to make $16.2 million this coming season. I doubt they’re about to trade for ANOTHER one like Omer Asik, especially one that would cost another $15 million. A small market team like Milwaukee won’t spend extravagantly like that for a rental.

The same applies to Jeremy Lin. The Bucks are shallow at the point, with Brandon Knight the only one under contract. It would make more sense to resign Ramon Sessions (he made $5 million last season and scored nearly 16 points per game while averaging 33 minutes) as a backup than to trade an asset for Lin (who’d cost ~$8.4 million against the cap, and earn ~$15 million with less production: 12.5 ppg over 29 minutes a game).

Atlanta Hawks
Cap Number: $48,716,058
Draft Picks
2014: 15th, 43rd Overall
2015: 2 1st rds (Own, Nets), 2 2nd rds (Own, Nets)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

It’s unlikely that the Hawks would take aboard either of these two players for reasons other than freeing up space for 2015. They feel very comfortable with their core, and should be. A healthy Al Horford (torn pectoral) would’ve made them the third best team in the Eastern conference last year. Combined with Paul Millsap, Atlanta has one of the best if not the best front courts in the East. That means trading Asik isn’t very realistic.

Jeremy Lin doesn’t seem like a possibility in Atlanta either. The team had four guards averaging 20+ minutes a game last year (starters Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, plus bench players Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack). He isn’t necessarily an upgrade over anyone but Mack.

Orlando Magic
Cap Number: $45,912,411
Draft Picks
2014: 4th, 12th (Knicks) Overall
2015: 1 1st round pick (Own), 1 2nd round picks (Lakers)
2016: 1 1st round pick (Own), 1 2nd round pick (Own)

Orlando is set at center with Nikola Vucevic (who averaged 14 and 11 this past year before being shelved for the year with a sore achilles). It’s doubtful that a small market team would be willing to pay Omer Asik to sit on the bench. That said, if they were willing to push Vucevic over to power forward and install Asik at center, the Magic would have a VERY intriguing front court. Still, we’ve all seen how Asik tends to clog things up offensively when paired on the court with other 7 footers.

The Magic are also fairly deep at guard with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, and Victor Oladipo. Afflalo’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors, so if he were to depart maybe Lin could be a one year rental as sixth man (with Nelson and Oladipo starting at the 1 and 2). Once again though, it’s hard to envision Orlando paying anyone ~$15 Million for just one season.

Charlotte Hornets
Cap Number: $42,072,440
Draft Picks
2014: 9th (Pistons), 24th (Trailblazers), 45th Overall
2015: 1 1st round pick (Own), 1 2nd round pick (Own)
2016: 1 1st round pick (Own), No 2nd round pick (Spurs)

With Al Jefferson at center and coming off of a career season, there’s no space for Asik as anything other than a backup. I doubt Michael Jordan would trade one his draft picks for one year of depth behind Jefferson (depth costing ~$15 Million), but he’s made mistakes before. And with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson the starting guards and Gary Neal as sixth man, there aren’t enough minutes to give Lin and merit footing that ~$15 million bill.

Utah Jazz
Cap Number: $32,246,231
Draft Picks
2014: 5th, 23rd (Warriors), 35th Overall
2015: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)
2016: 1 2nd rd (Own), 2 2nd rd (Own, Warriors)

The Jazz would ONLY make sense from a “meeting the salary cap threshold” standpoint. If they stand pat and aren’t able to trade up in the draft (they’re reportedly offering a huge package to the Cavaliers to move up to the first overall pick), they’d still have a front court featuring young center Enes Kanter and power forward Derrick Favors. It would be hard to rationalize paying Omer Asik that kind of money to be a bench player.

Lin wouldn’t be much of a fit either, as Alec Burks and Trey Burke split time playing point. Do you want a veteran with limited upside taking minutes away from those two? Doubtful.

Washington Wizards
Cap Number: $48,598,992
Draft Picks
2014: 46th overall
2015: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)
2016: 1 1st rd (Own), 1 2nd rd (Own)

With so much uncertainty in the Eastern Conference next season, the Wizards have a chance to be major players. And with around $15 million in cap space, they theoretically could sign a big name free agent to a max deal this off-season after some finagling.

If that plan doesn’t come to fruition, they’re stuck with the dilemma of figuring out what to do with center Marcin Gortat and forward Trevor Ariza. Resigning both would probably take them right up against the cap and force them to entirely rely on John Wall and Bradley Beal’s future development. In any case, they’re extremely unlikely to make a deal for Asik or Lin.

Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – weeknights 7-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

Latest Sports Stories:
[display-posts category=”sports” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]