Sources told ESPN.com that the Rockets and Pelicans have agreed to turn their previously agreed deal headlined by Asik into a three-team swap that folds in the agreement Houston struck Saturday to sign Ariza, thus creating a valuable trade exception for Washington.
The trade, sources say, calls for the Pelicans to receive Asik, Rockets swingman Omri Casspi and $1.5 million in cash from Houston.
The three teams have all signed off on the deal, sources say, but it still requires league approval before it can be announced.
Sources say the Rockets, meanwhile, will get Ariza and his new four-year, $32 million deal, Pelicans guards Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson (and their unguaranteed contracts) as well as New Orleans' protected first-round pick in 2015. Washington, in this scenario, is only required to take back the unguaranteed contract of Melvin Ely from New Orleans while creating an $8.5 million trade exception through Ariza's exit that will expire one year from the date that this complicated transaction is made official.
The Rockets and Pelicans agreed in principal to swapping Asik for the 2015 first-round pick in the days before the NBA draft in late June.
Without the late-season signing of Ely to his unguaranteed deal, New Orleans would have lacked the extra contract piece needed to make this deal happen. The Pelicans had to make the unpopular decision to waive center Greg Stiemsma to create a late-season roster spot for Ely, but that move was always done with the intent to plug Ely's contract into a significant trade to acquire a player of Asik's caliber.
New Orleans regards Asik as an ideal complement to star forward Anthony Davis given the Turkey native's bulk and defensive and rebounding prowess.
The Wizards, sources say, will waive Ely after the three-team deal is made official, with Houston likewise expected to waive Gee and Hopson.
When the three-team deal goes through, it will also mark the third time Hopson has been dealt just since Thursday. The Pelicans acquired him Sunday from Charlotte in exchange for cash considerations, just one day after Cleveland traded Hopson and cash to Charlotte in exchange for Hornets center Brendan Haywood and the draft rights to forward Dwight Powell, who was selected No. 45 overall in last month's draft.