We reviewed how the Cavs could benefit from the Golden State Warriors pursuit of Dwight Howard. The Houston Rockets are also pursuing the Lakers Center. The Rockets are also having some conversation of trying to acquire Josh Smith to have their own big 3: Howard, Smith and James Harden. In order to pursue both players, and even may need to in acquiring just Howard, the Rockets have a few moves that they could make, and the Cavs could seek to benefit from.
Asik could backup Howard or play next to him, though neither have decent range offensively. It is more likely that the Rockets would look to move him, either for a player that fits better or to just clear his contract. Asik is a rugged interior defender, with experience with Chicago Bulls in the Central Division. Asik could provide the Cavs with similar skills, though younger and healthier, then Andrew Bogut from our Warriors article. The difference between the two, besides their age and health, is that Asik’s contract runs 2 more years. When the Rockets signed Asik to his contract one of the reason the Bulls didn’t match is that a poison pill would of given the Bulls a huge salary cap hit in year 3. When they didn’t match this cap problem for the Cavs, if they acquire Asik, is no longer a concern. The concern is that his contract runs in 2014, taking away some of the Cavs cap space in the summer of ’14.
Similar to Asik, Lin has 2 years left on his contract. Lin’s contract sheet signed when he was a restricted free agent with the Knicks had a similar “poison pill” but that shouldn’t effect the Cavs decision making. Lin could provide the Cavs with a backup PG to Kyrie Irving, and a relative competent starter if Irving gets hurt. The Cavs would have more interest in Asik then Lin but could still find Lin intriguing. Chris Grant’s goal is always to acquire talent and assets to further the team’s present and future. With the goal of making the playoffs this year an PG like Lin could be a insurance policy if the worst case scenario plays out with Irving’s health. Lin’s lack of 3 point range would put a huge weight on Dion Waiters, draftee Sergey Karasev and recent signing Earl Clark to space the floor.
The Cavs would have to think long and hard before risking their 2014 salary cap to acquire either Asik or Lin. Asik could provide a defensive strength that is currently missing from the lineup. Lin could provide backup point guard duties and a capable hand for running the second team offense. His defensive lapses are concerning. The Cavs may be willing to give up something of value for Asik but less likely to do the same for Lin. How this plays out depends on a lot on Howard’s decision and how Grant and company see the building of their team for now and the future.