Bulls GM Gar Forman has consistently said that resigning the Turkish Hammer, a restricted free agent, is a top priority, but matching Houston's offer will be tough given the Bulls' financial limitations and numerous needs. The Bulls will have three days to match once Asik signs the offer sheet.
So here's the question: Should the Bulls overpay for Asik, which Houston is clearly willing to do?
Bulls' fans know Asik's game well. He plays exceptional defense and is a great rebounder and shot blocker, averaging 12 boards and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes. He's a formidable presence in the middle, a capable backup for Joakim Noah, and the defensive anchor of the second unit.
On the downside, Asik poses no threat whatsoever to opposing defenses, with most of his points (8 per 36) coming on stick-backs; some say he's met his ceiling as far as offensive potential. He has horrible hands and a bad habit of bringing the ball down, resulting in a high turnover rate (2.5/game). He's also an abysmal free throw shooter (48 percent career), and is prone to fouls, averaging five per 36.
The verdict: I've always been a big Asik fan and would like to see him in a Bulls uniform next year. He plays the kind of defense the Bulls want, fits into the system well, and helps give the Bulls a decided backcourt advantage over most NBA teams.
All of that said, Asik isn't worth $8 million a year - that's starting center money - and, let's face it, he's not a starting-quality NBA center.
Problem is, there aren't a lot of options out there, and fewer still that the Bulls can afford, especially given that Asik's gaudy offer will likely drive the price up on other available centers.
While it remains to be seen what GarPaxDorf will do, this fan can't fathom them spending that kind of money on a backup center. It's possible they could match Houston's back-loaded deal, but with that kind of price tag, it's time to say so long, Omer, we appreciate your effort the past two seasons.
Sources: Rockets to sign Asik to $25 million offer, Chicago Tribune; Asik agrees to $25 million offer sheet with Rockets, Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports; Free Agency Preview Part 1: Centers, NBA.com; Bulls' hands tied in free agency, Chicago Tribune.
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he tuned in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow.
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