The writing was on the wall early on that Asik and Howard on the floor at the same time made little basketball sense, and Asik seemed unhappy from the start that he had been relegated to a backup role. It shouldn't come as a surprise then that Asik appears to be on the way out the door in Houston.
What is surprising, however, is that the Boston Celtics appear to be a potential partner in what many expect to be a three-team trade. Even more surprising, the deal likely involves pieces not named Rajon Rondo.
Boston is stuck in a difficult spot
Sitting at 12-14, Boston finds itself in a difficult situation. The team is currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 12-14 record, a reality that few (if any) NBA analysts would have imagined at the start of the season. The Celtics are also not realistically a legitimate playoff threat. They would almost certainly lose to the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat, and it wouldn't surprise many if the team lost in the first round to an eighth seed like the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, or any of the other mediocre teams currently competing for the postseason.
Boston is obviously not good enough to win it all (or even come close), but the better the team does, the worse off the organization may be in the long run as the Celtics continue to slide further down in the 2014 draft order.
So what should Boston do from here? Compete for a playoff seed or rebuild for the future? The recent trade rumors may give away president of basketball operations Danny Ainge's plans for the near future.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Boston star forward Jeff Green and Brandon Bass have been brought up as potential pieces in a three-team deal involving Houston and possibly the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics make an excellent trade partner given that they have numerous first-round draft picks, several expiring contracts, and a willingness to make big moves.
NBA analyst Jared Swerling was quick to report that although Houston is excited about the possibility of bringing in Green to play alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard, the deal is "unlikely."
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported that a source denied the rumors involving Green to be true, suggesting that Boston was very happy with Green on the roster.
Reasons to believe a deal for Green may be in the works
Despite reports to the contrary, there are several good reasons to believe Boston may be looking to deal Green:
1. Boston would likely benefit from not making the playoffs and having a higher position in the 2014 NBA draft.
2. Green is having a good season, averaging 16.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, a .453 shooting percentage, and 1.6 assists per game, but his numbers are still below what many analysts (myself included) expected from him before the season started. From what we have seen so far this season, there are good reasons to believe that Green will never become the superstar player many thought he could be.
3. If the Celtics are thinking about trading Rajon Rondo, what is the point of keeping Jeff Green around?
4. Omer Asik's three-year deal is set to end at the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season, and his salary is set at $8.37 million. Jeff Green's contract is through the 2015-2016 season (assuming he takes his player option), and he is scheduled to earn $9.44 million over each of those two years. In short, Asik's deal is better for the rebuilding Celtics than Green's contract is.
5. The Celtics are likely stuck with Gerald Wallace. Wallace wants more playing time, but his big contract and his age makes it difficult to move him without having to pay for a hefty part of the deal. It makes sense then that the Celtics may move Green, create more playing time for Wallace, and get a better defensive presence (and rebounder) in the post by attaining a player like Asik.
6. Brad Stevens was known for his focus on defense and team offense at Butler. Think about how amazing the team defense would be if the Celtics were able to put Rondo, Asik, and Avery Bradley on the floor at the same time? It's a defensive coach's dream scenario.
7. Houston general manager Daryl Morey and Houston coach Kevin McHale both have strong ties to the Boston Celtics organization and a personal connection to Danny Ainge.
A possible revelation for fans
A lot of speculation has surrounded Boston since trading away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and losing coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. Danny Ainge's decision in the coming weeks involving Jeff Green and a possible deal for Omer Asik could finally reveal just where his head is at with this team.
Is Boston competing for a division title or looking to continue the rebuilding process? Is Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green the future or the soon-to-be past? Fans are (finally) about to find out.
Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @TheNewRevere.
Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Celtics
- Omer Asik
- Dwight Howard
- Rajon Rondo
- Houston Rockets
- Danny Ainge