NBA Trade Rumors: New Orleans Pelicans Looking To Unload Omer Asik’s Contract
As the New Orleans Pelicans attempt to solidify their roster to make a run at the postseason, the latest NBA trade rumors have the team hoping to trade away Omer Asik to clear cap space.
At times, Asik has fallen out of the Pelicans’ rotation and has played an average of just 15.9 minutes a game during his third season with the team.
While Asik hasn’t spent much time on the floor, his $9.9 million deal has clogged the ability of New Orleans to add a viable frontcourt option alongside All-Star power forward Anthony Davis.
According to ESPN, the Pelicans have started negotiations with Philadelphia for a deal involving Jahlil Okafor, the third-overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, in exchange for backup center Alexis Ajinca and a first-round selection in 2018.
Sources: New Orleans has been trying to get a trade package that includes unloading Omer Asik contract. Philly deal wouldn't include him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 6, 2017
The 76ers have reportedly been uninterested in a trade involving Asik, as he has produced averages of 2.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game during his limited time on the court with New Orleans.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has essentially eliminated Asik from the rotation, as he has appeared in just six games for a total of 44 minutes in the past 28 contests.
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During Monday’s 111-106 victory over the Suns, Asik received his sixth consecutive Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision in the box score, as the Pelicans continued to display their preference of playing small ball.
Eleven different players saw time on the court, while Asik and Ajinca sat out the entire game.
Three seasons after acquiring Asik in a deal with Houston, one that required the team to give up a 2015 first-round draft pick and $1.5 million in cash, the team is hoping to deal him away as he hasn’t formed the dominant frontcourt duo with Davis the team envisioned.
New Orleans has increased its efforts to provide Davis a capable scorer at the center position.
Davis is submitting an MVP-caliber season, with averages of 27.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, but, according to USA Today, the team is reluctant to surrender a pick without lottery protection.
The presence of Asik has been a non-factor, as he has seen his scoring and rebounding numbers decrease each season in New Orleans, while his presence as a shot blocker has been non existent.
Asik has turned the ball over a total of 168 times while blocking just 87 shots during his 174 games with the Pelicans.
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Last season, RealGM dubbed the contract of Asik as the most undesirable contract available in the trade market, with New Orleans slated to pay him $21.7 million over the next two years. He also holds a player option for $11.9 million in 2019-20, one he will ultimately invoke.
The dramatic increase of the salary cap since Asik signed a five-year, $60 million extension to remain in New Orleans in 2015 makes him a bit easier to move, as long as the Pelicans will include future draft picks or another player in any trade.
Instead of anchoring the paint for New Orleans, Asik has instead cemented himself as one of the priciest fixtures on the bench.
With the Pelicans still in postseason contention after snapping a four-game losing streak Monday night, the team is 20-32.
New Orleans is looking to make a splashy move in the trade market to help erase the 3.5-game gulf between the draft lottery and a playoff berth.
Only the first step requires the Pelicans to find a taker for Asik.