As Omer Asik’s 7-foot, 255-pound frame towered above the New Orleans Pelicans’ microphone podium, fans and journalists got their first glimpse of the formidability of the Pelicans’ new front court.
The Pelicans unveiled Asik and his new No. 3 jersey Tuesday afternoon, finally making official the 3-team deal to bring him to New Orleans and pair him with star power forward Anthony Davis.
"This was a guy we targeted. He was our number one target," General Manager Dell Demps said. "Omer is going to bring so much to our team. We are just thrilled to have him."
Asik, who became known as "The Turkish Hammer" during his days with the Chicago Bulls, is expected to take pressure off of Davis, especially when it comes to rim protection. That freedom will allow Davis to concentrate on further developing his most promising skills.
"Now the Pelicans have a true center, someone that’s going to compliment Anthony Davis and play a huge role in the success of this franchise moving forward into a playoff spot in the Western Conference," play-by-play announcer Joel Meyers said. "AD will now be in his natural role as a 4, not a 5, and an all-NBA talent."
Davis, in the past, has had to shoulder some of the responsibilities of a traditional team center, as the Pelicans rotated through a carousel of big men candidates.
"This move will keep Davis from having to guard centers for long stretches," analyst David Wesley said. "This will free Davis up to function much like LaMarcus Aldridge benefitted from Robin Lopez’s presence. Asik is a scoring big with good size and touch. He’ll help anchor the defense alongside Davis. Offensively, if Asik can score effectively enough to demand a double team, it will really help perimeter players when he passes out, too."
The Pelicans have Asik for the next season, although Demps has made clear the team’s long term vision includes Asik and plans for a contract extension next summer.
The terms of the Asik trade also bring Omri Casspi and cash considerations from the Houston Rockets to New Orleans. Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson and the Pelicans’ protected first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft now belong to the Rockets. Melvin Ely is headed to the Washington Wizards, who are in return sending Trevor Ariza to the Rockets.