Houston’s aggressive move to acquire Omer Asik

So…let’s get this straight.

A contract worth $25.1 million over three years for a guy who averaged 3.1 PPG and 5.3 RPG with a Player Efficiency Rating of 13.4 while playing only 14.7 MPG last season?

That’s what the Houston Rockets have reportedly offered Omer Asik.

For those of you who enjoy simple math, that deal would have Asik making around $8 million per year.

If you’re wondering how Houston was able to offer Asik that much cash, ESPN’s John Hollinger breaks it down detail-by-detail. Here are the main points:

Under the “Gilbert Arenas” provision of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, a player such as Asik — a second-round draft pick coming off his second season — can be offered only a maximum of the midlevel exception in free agency for the first two seasons but can be offered any amount up to the maximum in years after that.

Houston took advantage of this provision by limiting his offer to three years, rather than the maximum of four, and offering the maximum eligible salary in Year 3.

It’s so damaging because of how the league assigns the salary cap and luxury tax hits for the respective sides. In Houston’s case, the amounts are averaged over the three seasons, requiring the Rockets to have a little more than $8 million in cap room to consummate the deal.

As it turns out,  the Rockets can absorb that cap hit without much trouble. The Bulls? Not so much. Hollinger continues:

The league calculates the cap charge differently for a team matching the offer sheet, using actual salaries instead of the average. So the Bulls get off easy in the short term; a $5 million cap charge for Asik this year and next should have been in their budget to start.

But then in 2014-15, it jumps up to about $14.9 million. And it’s not clear how the Bulls are supposed to handle that, especially given their aversion to the luxury tax and the fact they may be subject to the repeater penalty by then. Between Asik, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, they have $61.6 million committed and that’s without paying Taj Gibson, retaining Luol Deng, or adding any free agent or draft picks.

They’re almost certainly a tax team, in other words, and in fact they’re likely to be deep into the tax, even if the league’s tax level rises a few ducats by then. Which makes the effective cost of keeping Asik that season closer to $30 million than $15 million. And as much as I may admire his defense and rebounding, it’s inconceivable that Asik is worth anywhere near $30 million.

I have to agree with Hollinger. Omer isn’t worth that kind of money. Not when the team has several other holes that need to be filled.

And for the people who may be screaming for the Bulls to simply use the amnesty provision to dump Boozer’s contract, it’s not quite that simple, as Hollinger also explains:

Are there ways around this? Yes, but the medicine is worse than the disease. If in 2014 the Bulls were to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, who would be on the final year of his deal, that would cut $15 million from their cap number (and likely from their luxury tax bill) that season, but they would still have to pay Boozer, which would still make Asik’s effective cost $30 million — except in that case, it’s $30 million and a starting power forward.

So that doesn’t make much sense either. Meaning the Bulls are kind of behind the eight ball.

As ESPN’s Marc Stein pointed out, Bulls GM Gar Forman said after the draft on Thursday that management will be making decisions based on basketball and not finances. It makes for a great quote…but at some point finances always come into play. And it almost certainly will here. At this cost, if the Bulls match Houston’s offer on Asik, it will require major changes to personnel. Ditto if they lose Asik.

As usual, there are no easy answers.

7 Responses to Houston’s aggressive move to acquire Omer Asik

  1. Bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. July 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Done and done. Let him go. There is no way the Bulls should over pay for a back-up 4th big man. There are cheaper ways to pick-up six fouls.

    … And good luck to Houston. There’s 25 mil you can’t get back!

  2. Anonymous July 3, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I concur with Brad. Thanks for playing here Asik, enjoy your pay day. Maybe we’ll pick up B.Roy and see if he has anything left in the tank…

  3. gcowhsu@hotmail.com'
    Michael Hsu July 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Let him go. Bulls should tank this season and have Rose and/or Deng sit out the whole year and get a lottery next year.

    Omer was good defense and hustler but had zero offensive abilities. He’s worst than Perkins and I feel like it cost them a lot of games when they would try to give it to him and he either could not convert or was fouled at the rim.

  4. shong69@gmail.com'
    Stu July 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    I am not sure how Boozer became the whipping boy of the Bulls’ fans. Sure, he’s got a big contract and he doesn’t play with the ferocity that Chicagoans love but he is far from a stiff and is still a pretty good player.

    Plus Boozer wanted to be here. Last time I checked, none of the big free agent catches of the last few years (or even from the early 2000s) wanted to join the Bulls. So when one wants to join up, we crap all over him?

    Also, we tend to fall in love with the next new thing or the guy who isn’t on our team. Tanking to get into next year’s lottery gets us what? Shabazz Muhammad, Noel Nerlens or some other kid who is still in high school? Odds are that none of these kids will become a franchise changer.

    In my opinion, the Thunder/Spurs are doing it right. Build around your superstar (which we have in Derrick Rose) with quality guys who fit your system. Don’t go chasing like the Heat; even though it worked for them, it is a very risky way to win — and only works when the players have a consistently favorable view of your city/organization. I am not sure that applies to Chicago and the Bulls.

  5. starr365 July 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    I agree with you Stu on many points. Boozer is a decent player. We shouldn’t be angry that The Bulls overpaid him. In this league at his position the standard is much more athletic, and he hurts the Bulls more than he helps them. Taj should be starting. He would score about 12/game, which isn’t that far from Boozer. Plus his defensive presence would make his +/- much better than Boozer over the course of the game. But we have Boozer for another year or two, and with that being said, we need to cut loose some dead weight. Love Korver, but he’s too one dimensional; when teams deny him the ball he can’t find a way to get a shot off. Philly REALLY made CJ look like garbage. He’s had his moments when he’s shined, but I don’t trust him in the playoffs again. Love Ronnie Brewer. GREAT defensively. Gives D.Wade hell. But he’s a liability on offense.

    I don’t think that the Bulls would’ve beaten Miami this year. Rip Hamilton wasn’t a difference maker in the Philly series. How much better would he have played against the Heat? I know that finding a 2-guard that can score 18/game is a premium in the league. Truth is until we get that the Bulls are going to be running in place.

    I think Hamilton would be great coming off of the bench. You bring Boozer off of the bench with him and now the 2nd unit is really legit. I like Noah and Deng. I don’t think trading them is the answer. I think that the Bulls match the offer sheet for Asik and then get creative in struturing the contract. 5 mil/year the 1st and 2nd year, then trade him the 3rd year. Asik solidifies the defense of the 2nd unit. Together with Hamilton and Boozer the 2nd unit is looking really good. But we still need that starting 2-guard…

  6. Inception July 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Time to let go of Asik and let Noah run the show.

    doesn’t sound too promising, but might as well do it with the limited cap space.

  7. dholla77@yahoo.com'
    Jason Williams July 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Asik is the one of the most important players on the team. If the Bulls lose him, that will be a huge blow to our team’s greatest strength and that’s our front court. We are the number one rebounding team and Asik is a big part of the reason why. There are few true 7-footers with his combination of strength, agility, and skill. He plays with a lot of confidence and has shown that he is a legit NBA center, that’s why Houston offered him that contract to pry him away from the Bulls. He is still young and has a great upside. Besides Howard, Bynum,or Gortat I would take Asik over any other center in the league because he’s big and powerful , he can move his feet, and he does his job as a center by pounding his opponents down low. Believe me when I tell you that Asik is not a replaceable player, especially as a bench player and I believe that GM Gar Forman know this as well.

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