The Boston Celtics have gained traction in trade talks to acquire Houston Rockets center Omer Asik, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The talks have centered on a package including forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a first-round pick, sources said. The Celtics and Rockets are still haggling over which future first-round pick goes to Houston in Asik deal, sources said.
Rockets center Dwight Howard and Bass played together on Orlando's frontline, but sources insist Howard was never enamored with the partnership. Boston has been making the case Bass is much improved from his time in Orlando, and most agree he's an upgrade over Rockets power forward Terrence Jones.
Th Rockets have a self-imposed Thursday deadline to reach agreement on a trade for Asik.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks have faded significantly in conversations for Asik, sources said. The Philadelphia 76ers also have had talks with the Rockets about a possible deal for Asik.
Houston has been pursuing a power forward in the deal.
Houston general manager Daryl Morey wants a deal done before the end of the week, giving the Rockets the flexibility to trade whomever is acquired in a deal before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Asik has been demanding a trade since the Rockets signed Howard in July, and has become an increasingly unhappy presence within the franchise's locker room.
Houston coach Kevin McHale abandoned a short-lived attempt at starting Asik and Howard on the Rockets' frontline. Asik is considered a starting-caliber NBA center and is especially dominant on the defensive end. He has two years and $20 million left on his deal.