The NBA trade market doesn't usually heat up until after the New Year. But this year, things seem to be ramping up a bit early. Earlier this week, the Knicks reportedly offered Iman Shumpert to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Kenneth Faried, and on Thursday, news broke that Rockets' big man Omer Asik has requested a trade.
The Asik situation has been developing since Houston acquired Dwight Howard over the summer. Kevin McHale has tried lineups with both Howard and Asik in the frontcourt, but the Rockets struggled to score with both centers on the floor together. McHale's rotation has marginalized Asik of late; Asik was a DNP-CD for Thursday's game at Madison Square Garden, but his coach claimed that illness, and not the trade request, was the reason for the benching.
Will the Rockets honor Asik's request? For now, the answer seems to be no. According to an ESPN report, Asik has been informed that the team is not seeking a deal. Of course, things could change. Denying Asik's initial request might just be Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey's way of saying, "I'm not making a move until the market develops."
If Morey does opt to deal his disgruntled big man, a "stretch four" would be the logical target. Power forwards with the ability to step out and hit a three have thrived playing next to Howard, Rashard Lewis in Orlando being one of the most obvious examples. Someone like New Orleans' Ryan Anderson, who is working his way back from a toe injury, would make a lot of sense for Houston.
Asik is 50 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues right now, a number that seems high given his tenuous place in McHale's rotation. At this point, he seems worth holding only in deeper leagues, or if you have a bench spot available and are willing to wait until his situation changes substantially.
The Shumpert/Faried deal seems just as unlikely to happen. The Nuggets reportedly gave the Knicks a "thanks, but no thanks" response to the offer, but timing may have been part of the problem. The Nuggets are playing without center JaVale McGee (stress fracture, left tibia), which might make them unwilling to trade a frontcourt player for a wing. They might also be waiting to see what they get from Wilson Chandler (65% owned), who just returned from a hamstring injury, and Danilo Gallinari (27%), who is coming back from a torn ACL and is still a few weeks away from his season debut.
Potential Coaching Changes
At least three NBA teams are rumored to be considering coaching changes, which could lead to substantial shakeups in some lineups, rotations, and fantasy values.
The hottest seat in the league might be the one supporting the hindquarters of Washington coach Randy Wittman. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has made it clear that he expects his team to return to the playoffs this year; he can't be happy about his team's worst-in-the-East 2-6 start. Wittman got a pass for last year's brutal start because John Wall was hurt. He does not have as good an excuse this year, though it is worth noting that Washington's bench has been absolutely awful.
Vultures also seem to be circling Utah's Ty Corbin and Toronto's Dwayne Casey, which may or may not be fair. Neither team was really expected to compete this season, since both are in the midst of rebuilding programs. That said, both the Jazz and the Raptors have new general managers. At some point, Utah's Dennis Lindsey and Toronto's Masai Ujiri will probably want to hire their own coaches.
Picks for the Week
All percent-owned stats are from Yahoo!
Harrison Barnes (63%) - The Warriors have eliminated all playing time restrictions for Barnes, so we should see a decent uptick in his minutes going forward.
Robin Lopez (58%) - The sample size is pretty small, but Lopez seems to be emerging as a more reliable fantasy player in his first season as a Trail Blazer. He's riding a string of three straight double-doubles.
J.J. Hickson (42%) and Timofey Mozgov (5%) - With JaVale McGee sidelined indefinitely, Hickson has started the last two games for Denver, with Mozgov taking on a larger role off the bench. Of the two, the big Russian has been the more effective - and the comparison isn't particularly close. Against the Lakers, Mozgov exploded for 23 points, nine boards and four blocks in just 23 minutes.
Jordan Hill (35%) - Coach Mike D'Antoni's latest lineup shakeup moved Hill into the starting five, and Hill has responded with two straight double-doubles.
Louis Williams (22%) - Williams has been upgraded to "day-to-day" and should make his season debut very soon. It might be hard to remember, as it was so long ago, but Williams was a very effective bench player for the Hawks before tearing his ACL last January.
Nate Wolters (7%) - The undrafted rookie has really stepped up while Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight have been sidelined. He's averaging over five assists per game.
Follow Charlie on Twitter - @charliezegers