UPDATE: The draft pick Houston will receive is guaranteed to fall late in the lottery or in the teens, according to Grantland's Zach Lowe:
Pick to HOU has Lowry-style reverse protections, per source. NOP keeps if in top 2/3 of lottery, and if it's 20-plus. In b/w, goes to HOU— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 26, 2014
Houston is finalizing a deal to send Omer Asik to New Orleans, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
New Orleans will send a future first-round pick to Houston for Asik, league source tells Yahoo Sports. Deal will give Rockets cap space.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
For the Rockets, this is Step 1 in clearing the cap space to chase LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in free agency.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
The Pelicans will send the Rockets their first round pick in 2015 for Asik— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 26, 2014
Rockets will also send New Orleans $1.5 million cash as part of the deal.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 26, 2014
Asik's name has been mentioned in trade rumors since the day that Dwight Howard agreed to come to Houston. New Orleans has come up as a possible destination before, with Ryan Anderson mentioned as a target for the Rockets. That never came to pass, and now having budding superstar Anthony Davis, Asik and Anderson together gives Pelicans head coach Monty Williams lots of flexibility in the frontcourt.
Together, Davis and Asik will be one of the best defensive tandems in the league around the basket. Asik is elite in terms of protecting the rim and rebounding.
Presumably, Houston's next step as it prepares to chase another star will be finding a new home for point guard Jeremy Lin.