Someone should probably get Danny Ainge a cold towel. One of the most consistent objects of his affection is back on the court.
Omer Asik, the defensive-minded center who has had the Celtics’ president of basketball operations hot under the collar for some time, participated in shootaround for the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reports. Rockets coach Kevin McHale told reporters Asik could be cleared to play within 7 to 10 days.
“We definitely miss him out there on the court,” Houston guard James Harden told the Chronicle’s Jenny Dial Creech. “He is such a great talent. He did so many great things for us last year. He is one of the best big men in the NBA. We are grateful to have both him and Dwight [Howard] on the same team.”
Asik has been connected with the Celtics multiple times, including a report in December that said a deal for Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round draft pick was imminent. That deal did not happen, and Lee was later sent to the Memphis Grizzlies. Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo have also been involved in Asik-related rumors, which come in varying degrees of plausibility.
Knee and thigh injuries have prevented Asik from playing since Dec. 2, although the 27-year-old big man began griping about his playing time well before that. With Howard joining the team, Asik’s playing time plummeted from 30 minutes per game last season to just 18.3 minutes per game this season. Consequently, his production fell from a double-double to 4.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a result.
Asik has not been cleared for contact practice. His participation in Wednesday reportedly was limited to “five-on-zero” drills and walkthroughs. Yet that still could be enough to pique Ainge’s interest again.