The NBA trade deadline is still two months away, but it appears to be a near certainty that a major move will be made by Thursday. The Houston Rockets have been telling teams for all of December that they intend to trade Omer Asik by the 19th of the month, and they are showing no signs of changing their plans.
Since the big man requested a trade at the beginning of the season, general manager Daryl Morey has spoken to several different teams. The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers look like the frontrunners to land Asik.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass could be sent to Houston. Green is signed through 2015, with a player option for $9.4 million in the 2015-2016 season. Green had been viewed as a disappointment in his first few seasons with the Celtics. This season, though, he’s playing his best basketball with Boston. With the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett no longer with the club, Green leads the team with 16.5 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting. The Celtics, who were expected to miss the playoffs, lead the Atlantic Division.
Philadelphia may be the favorites to land Asik. They’d likely give up Thaddeus Young in a potential deal. He’s put up very similar numbers to Green, and has an almost identical contract. The 76ers got off to a surprising start, but have since faltered, losing 11 of their last 12.
The Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks have also had discussions with the Rockets. The Knicks don’t likely have enough to make a deal, considering Iman Shumpert is their only real trade asset and Houston has enough backcourt players with the likes of James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Patrick Beverley. ESPN reports that the Rockets have interest in Paul Millsap, but the Hawks may not be willing to part with him.
As the Celtics look to add Asik, they could also be trying to move their best player. Rajon Rondo’s name has been at the center of trade rumors since Boston began their rebuilding process, and speculation continues about his possible departure. According to NBCSN basketball analyst Donny Marshall, Boston and the Sacramento Kings have engaged in serious talks about the point guard. Marshall went as far to say that Rondo is “likely a goner.”
Other reports have suggested that no deal is imminent, but Marshall says a deal would include other Celtics’ players as well. If Sacramento were to acquire Rondo, it’s likely that point guard Isaiah Thomas and possibly 2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore would be included. Marshall indicated that DeMarcus Cousins likely would not be involved in a trade.
Jimmer Fredette has not been mentioned in any possible deals. The former first-round pick was subjected to trade speculation at the start of the season following the addition of McLemore to an already deep backcourt. It's unclear what the Kings' plans are for Fredette, who has been used sparingly this season.
If Rondo is traded, it could be before he even plays a game this season. The point guard hasn’t taken the court since tearing his ACL last year. He has been cleared for full-contract practice and could return some time in January. His contract is set to end next year when he’ll earn over $12 million.