Ladies and gentlemen, Omer Asik is about to get paid – and it probably won’t be by the Bulls.
After spending the last two seasons coming off Chicago’s bench and solidifying himself as a stout member of The Bench Mob, Asik is a restricted free agent and the dismemberment of one of the best benches in basketball is seemingly going to continue with Asik’s likely exit from Chicago.
Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson are all likely to be jettisoned to save salary cap space for a free agent signing and the Bulls $2.3 million qualifying offer on Asik is going to be met and exceeded by someone who wants Asik in their front court in 2013.
And any GM who is vying for the Turkish Hammer’s talents is in the right mind set. Asik has glowed coming off the bench for the Bulls and really only has had a few disappointing moments during his time here. Of course the most recent being his offensive foul on Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala following two shanked free throws to ice a fatal Game 6 for the Bulls in the first round of this year’s playoffs.
But after being a stout reserve for two seasons, Asik very well could start next season.
The Houston Rockets have shown an intense interest in Asik lately and it’s rightfully so. Houston has been on the prowl for a center for the last 4 seasons. Boston has also been rumored to be hot after Asik. The thinking behind adding Asik in Boston is that it would help Celtics brass convince Kevin Garnett to return as Garnett has expressed little interest in returning as a center.
Cleveland has been rumored to have an interest in Asik for sometime. Since at least the end of April there have been rumors kicking that the Cavaliers want to add the Bulls 7 foot reserve. However if the Cavaliers have the fourth overall selection in the draft on June 28th and could very well select Andre Drummond from UConn which would render Asik’s service almost useless beyond that of his current status in Chicago.
So anyway you slice it, there is a growing interest in Asik and there are places he can start. The next question is, as Matt Moore pointed out, whether Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to go into the luxury tax for a team that won’t likely compete for a championship in 2013. Reinsdorf is skittish when it comes to entering the luxury tax for teams that could compete for a championship so to think he’d break that streak for a team that won’t feature Derrick Rose or Luol Deng for a good part of the season is a hard idea to sell.
However the Bulls may be able to get around the luxury tax if they can arrange a sign and trade with a team. Houston has some quality players that could be shopped in such a deal but the Cavaliers and Celtics don’t have much to offer in this situation. And even in a sign and trade situation with Asik, there is no guarantee that the Bulls will stay under the tax.
NBA free agency opens on July 11th and with the Bulls being a little light in the wallet this year, it will be interesting to see what they do not only with Asik but with free agency in general.