Mar 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik (3) makes shoots a free throw against the Denver Nuggets during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Omer Asik to Visit Houston, Portland; Offers Expected from Both

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Free Agencey is underway — well sort of as teams can’t officially sign players until July 11– and Omer Asik is wasting no time in getting out there and seeing where the biggest deal is. Asik is visiting the Houston Rockets, which was expected, and he’s also visiting the Portland Trailblazers as free agency begins. Both teams are expected to put offers in on the Turkish Hammer.

The Bulls have known for sometime that teams will want to pursue Omer Asik and now that free agency has begun, they are seeing just how coveted he really is. (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)

Asik is restricted free agent which means no team can just outright sign him. The Bulls have final say on where Asik goes — at least to an extent. Chicago has made the first offer on Asik and can match any and all offers he receives from this point forward. The problem with that is the Bulls don’t have a lot of room between them and the luxury tax and teams know this.

This means that the Rockets can offer Asik an $8 million contract and if the Bulls want to keep Asik, that’s the price they pay.

The problem with this is backloaded deals. Houston can offer Asik a backloaded contract which would all but cripple the Bulls hopes of matching the offer. A backloaded deal would mean the Bulls would be paying a majority of Asik’s contract int he final years of the deal. This is something they don’t want to do as the finical future is tight as is.

Houston has been interested in Asik as far back as last season. Every trade discussion the Rockets have had with Chicago has included Asik’s name.

Don’t hold your breath for a sign and trade scenario. Asik can’t get any more money from the Bulls and the Rockets would be weakened by such a trade.

A new variable in the whole Asik story is now the Portland Trailblazers. Portland is set to meet with Asik after he meets with Houston and Portland too is expected to put in an offer on him.

Right away on the first day teams can talk to players, Asik has two teams hot after him and that doesn’t even include the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Philadelphia 76ers who both have reported interest in Asik.

But Houston seems like the favored landing spot for Asik. They have been in need of a center for three years now and besides that, Houston traded Samuel Dalembert to the Bucks before the draft and Marcus Camby is a free agent. This means the Rockets have noe centers on roster.

If the Rockets offer Asik $8 million like they’re expected to, the Bulls are likely done with Asik. Already people close to the Bulls are trying to make peace with Asik’s exit, criticizing his offense and questioning his durability.

But Gar Forman isn’t letting anyone tell him how to do his job. He has said that the Bulls No. 1 priority this offseason is to re-sign Asik and they will match any offer he receives. However this strategy could crumble of a team gives Asik what K.C. Johnson of the Tribune calls “a really nutty backloaded deal”.

All indications are though that if such a deal doesn’t arise, the Bulls will match.

Keep an eye not he Omer Asik situation as it’s far from over. The Bulls aren’t out of anything yet but that seems like wishful thinking at this point. Stay tuned to Pippen Ain’t Easy for the latest news on Asik and NBA free agency.

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