The day has arrived for the Houston Rockets to live up to their vow to trade disgruntled center Omer Asik.
The Rockets have been telling rival teams for two weeks that they will trade Asik by Thursday, and according to sources close to the process, they gradually continued to move in that direction Wednesday.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Boston Celtics had emerged as the strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of Asik's likely destination. Entering the final hours before the Rockets' self-imposed deadline, sources said Houston officials spent much of Wednesday weighing the merits of Boston's offer of forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a future first-round draft pick for the 7-footer from Turkey while remaining engaged in talks with Philadelphia and leaving open the possibility that other teams could still join the bidding.
The Rockets, sources said, have been interested in prying veteran center Spencer Hawes away from the Sixers along with a future first-round pick, but they won't know until Thursday whether Philadelphia is prepared to part with that much for Asik or whether Boston's offer is the best available.
The Boston Herald reported late Wednesday that the Celtics actually made the offer featuring Bass, Lee and a protected first-rounder last week, only for Houston to reject it.
When this process began, Rockets officials were hopeful of getting more for Asik, who is regarded as one of the league's elite interior defenders. But the combination of Asik's offensive limitations and a $15 million balloon payment next season in the final year of his contract appears to have made it difficult for Houston to generate the interest it anticipated.