It may or may not be the team’s private view, but the Rockets are now saying publicly that backup center Omer Asik will remain with the team for the duration of his contract (ending in 2015).
In a Q&A session with Houston season-ticket holders before Friday night’s 88-87 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, general manager Daryl Morey told the audience that Asik will likely remain a Rocket throughout his entire contract.
“We pushed to trade Omer in December,” said Morey. “We felt we had to make a fair and aggressive effort to do that. Obviously, he’d prefer to be a starter.
“At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract at the end of next season, not this season. The window to trade him was [in December], and teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future.”
Morey’s comments were available courtesy of Twitter user @MiggysWorld35, who was present at the Q&A discussion. Here’s a rundown of some of his other responses:
- Morey feels comfortable with the Rockets facing any Western Conference team in a seven-game playoff series except for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We feel like we’re better than we’ve shown. It’s exciting to be 29-15 (now 29-16) and feel like there’s more there.
“We feel like when we’re healthy and get everyone clicking, that’ll get us very close to getting where we want to be. We’re not quite there. We still feel like a healthy Oklahoma City is a little better.
“But I think any other team in the West, we feel like we can beat in a seven-game series. We can beat Oklahoma City, too, but we wouldn’t be favored.”
- Morey believes Chandler Parsons, who will become a free agent in either July 2014 or July 2015, “is going to make a lot of money”.
“With Chandler, we have an interesting decision. At the end of this year, we can turn down his option. People wonder why, because it’s so cheap, but then he’d be a restricted free agent. Or he can go through his fourth year and be an unrestricted free agent. There are advantages to each, so it’s something we’ll continue to talk about.
“He’s going to make a lot of money on his next contract. We don’t know how much. But we’re committed to keeping him.”
- The Rockets will look into hiring Shane Battier in a management role once Battier retires from basketball.
“Of the players we’ve had, Shane Battier is a guy I felt could be a great head coach. He’s so smart though, he’s told me maybe he doesn’t want to do it because it’s too much work. He hasn’t decided what he wants to do later, but he might be interested in personnel, and that’s something we would be interested in talking to him about.”
“I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever. He’s the only one that never played a minute in the NBA that wasn’t just a foreign guy staying in Europe. It just shows we swing for the fence,” Morey quipped.
- The Rockets are receiving “lots of calls” about Donatas Motiejunas, who asked to be traded in search of more playing time. However, the Rockets prefer to keep him.
“Teams are opportunistic. Any player that other teams like and think is good and that’s not playing, generally that’s who you get calls on. We’ve gotten a lot of calls on Donatas because he’s a mobile 7-footer with offensive skill. He’s not a perfect player, but because he wasn’t playing, teams are like ‘Maybe we can get him on the cheap’.
“We believe in him. I expect him to be here. The reality is, it’s very hard to get a 7-footer who can play as well as him on a $1 million contract.”
- Morey “won’t be shy” about making a trade at this year’s February deadline. It could be a move that helps the team now, but he’s also open to ones that greatly help the future.
“The reality is, the more you prescribe what you’re going to do at the deadline, the worse off you are.
“If you say you’ve got to go with X, if other teams sense you’re locked into a player or a particular direction, they take advantage of that. We’re very opportunistic. We didn’t know James Harden was going to be available. We just knew we wanted to build up the right sets so that when the next star acts, we’re ready to pounce.
“We’re valuing now and this season much higher than we have in the past. We feel like, while maybe not the favorite, we have a legit chance to win the title this year. So if an opportunity presents itself to get a lot better this year, we’ll do it. We’ll give up some future for now.
“That said, we do feel like we have a long run with this group. But you never know how long. It’s a balancing act. You’re always judging future vs. now, and what we’re optimizing on is the probability of us to win the title over a 3-to-4 year window. We’re trying to maximize that.
“We’ll push down the future if it pushes up today high enough. If we can push up the future dramatically, we’d even push down today a little bit.”
“Classically, we don’t [have enough experience]. Pat Beverley is coming into his first full season, Jeremy is basically in his second as a starter.
Teams aren’t going to give away better players than the ones we have. The Celtics won the title with a first-year starting point guard [Rajon Rondo in 2007-08]. It’s definitely possible to do it.
But we lack experience everywhere. We’re by far the least-experienced team that’s thinking about winning a title.”
(In a separate question on recent Rondo-to-Houston trade speculation, Morey declined comment.)
- Head coach Kevin McHale was quite upset by the recent thigh bruise that sidelined Terrence Jones for two games.
“The other day, when Terrence wasn’t playing, I thought Coach McHale’s dog had been shot by the look on his face. Because Terrence has really been saving us. We’re excited to have him back.”