The Rockets took the first step Wednesday in their quest to create significant offseason cap space by agreeing to trade backup center Omer Asik to the division rival New Orleans Pelicans.
The Rockets will get a protected 2015 first-round draft pick in return for Asik, as first reported by USA Today reporter Sam Amick.
The Rockets will receive the pick from the Pelicans if it falls anywhere between picks 4 and 19, a source confirms to ClutchFans.
Asik averaged 5.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Rockets in 2013-14 in 48 games played, mostly off the bench. As a starter in 2012-13, Asik scored 10.1 points and grabbed 11.7 rebounds per game and was widely considered as one of the best defensive big men in the NBA.
Trading Asik for a future pick will clear about $8.4 million in cap room for Houston. They will also need to move Jeremy Lin, who has an identical salary, in a similar cap-clearing move in order to become realistic players for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony when free agency opens on July 1.
Amick reports that a Lin trade is unlikely to happen unless a major free agent commits to Houston.
“But as I’ve reported, they have deals teed up [for Lin],” Amick wrote.
The trade is not official and is not expected to be finalized until later. Because New Orleans owes their 2014 first-round pick to Philadelphia, the Pelicans can not trade their pick until after the draft. League rules do not allow teams to trade future first-round picks in consecutive years, so the Pelicans must wait until the 2014 draft passes in order to trade their 2015 pick.
Amick notes that the deal may not become official until after the July moratorium, because New Orleans may send players with non-guaranteed money in the trade in order to match Asik’s $8.4 million cap charge. At the moment, the Pelicans do not have that much in cap room.