Celtics trade rumors grow quiet
On the list of spectators for this latest round of trade rumors, one should be certain to include the Celtics. While the club is said to be more than open to the possibility of acquiring Omer Asik from Houston, it has made no move in that direction in several days.
Multiple sources confirmed that an offer of Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round draft pick — protected, at that — indeed was made by the Celts last week. When it was summarily turned down by the Rockets, the matter was closed and remained that way Wednesday.And in a separate issue, the Rajon Rondo trade winds have not started blowing. Several sources insist the Celtics have grown even more committed to seeing how well the Rondo-Brad Stevens combination, already in harmony off the court, works in games.Back on the Asik front, the growing belief is that Houston, working under a self-imposed quasi-deadline of today to deal Asik (because the Rockets would then be able to move the players they receive by the Feb. 20 trade deadline), is looking to stir interest in the backup center.
The Celtics were one of the teams that sought to be involved when Asik became available, but according to an executive from another club, Danny Ainge has set the price he's willing to pay and isn't interested in overspending.
"Why should he?" the source said. "He's holding a lot of cards. He has some decent players and a lot of first-round draft picks. And that team isn't going anywhere this year, so what's his rush?"
Asik could fit well with the Celts as a better version of Kendrick Perkins, but he is not without his limits. The 7-foot Turkish center is seen as a guy who will play 25-30 minutes per game, and he's an offensive liability in crunch time (a 53.4 percent free throw shooter in his career).
Among his best assets for the Celtics would be an inside presence that would allow Jared Sullinger to play his more natural power forward position.
The Celtics were not deep in talks with the Rockets Wednesday. They were not negotiating which first-round pick to include in the deal, or how well-protected that pick would be.
According to a source from a team that was involved in the process but dropped out, the next move would have to come from the Rockets.
"It's kind of funny how things that have been dead for a while keep coming up," he said. "The only way I can see anything happening is if (Rockets general manager Daryl Morey) decides he wants something that he's already said no to.
"I can see where the thing with Boston makes sense for (the Celtics). Lee and Bass are good, but they're complementary guys. And if the first-round pick is protected, what do (the Celtics) have to lose? But Daryl didn't go for that before, and I don't see how he changes on that. Asik has to be a more important asset than that."
The Rockets have known for quite some time that Asik wants out. Word is he was told the club would sign no center ahead of him when he agreed to join Houston as a free agent in 2012. When Dwight Howard was lured this past summer, Asik reminded them of his agreement and quietly asked to be moved.
The Rockets tried to play Howard and Asik together, but the presence on the floor of two non-shooters was a problem. And Asik, who will be a free agent again after the 2014-15 season, told the team he would not be able to get his minutes and rebound numbers with Howard around.
That led to the events of the past week, a bidding war that might be growing short on bidders.