Asik at shoot-around, getting closer

Asik at shoot-around, getting closer
February 5, 2014, 1:15 pm
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(USA Today Images)

The signs have slowly started to point towards a return to the floor for Rockets center Omer Asik.

Asik took part in Wednesday's shoot-around, but very little heavy basketball work is done by any of the players during the glorified walk-throughs.

Following Tuesday's practice, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said he was hopeful that he was close to getting word from trainers that Asik could return to work in the next seven to 10 days.

"He's (Omer) been on the floor the last couple of days at least doing the warms up and stuff," McHale said. "I think tomorrow (Thursday) at practice we'll get him on the floor some. He's gonna have to get some 5-on-5, not 5-on-0. He's going to have to get some time on the court, but barring any kind of setback, I'd say sooner than later (for his return).

"You need to be in shape to play this game, especially if you want to play the way we want to play. It's very hard to go from your couch, to 'I think I'll play an NBA game.' You need a lot of time on the floor. He's going to be a rusty when he comes back, but I think we can work him in."

The hope is still for Asik to get some playing time before the NBA breaks for the All-Star game. Following the Rockets game Wednesday against Phoenix, Houston plays at Milwaukee on Saturday, at Minnesota on Monday, then is home for Washington next Wednesday. The NBA trading deadline comes the afternoon of Feb. 20 and the Rockets play the day prior at the Los Angeles Lakers.

"He looked fine to me, he's moving around, he's going through 5-on-0, no contact," Chandler Parsons said on Wednesday. "He seems to be getting better. He can be one of the better centers in this league. To have that luxury of having him and Dwight, his size and length and everything that he can bring to this team can benefit us a lot."

There has been no shortage of questions about the return of Asik since he first started missing games in early December.

His thigh contusion began to cause knee discomfort and both have kept him out of game action for the last 30 games.

The problem hasn't been with the question, moreso with the answers, because there simply weren't any. Each time he ramped up his rehab efforts, his knee would not respond as doctors had hoped and he would scale things back. Couple that absence with his widely reported desire to be traded elsewhere and it's been a rather unfortunate second season in Houston for Asik.

Asik has been spotted on the court a little bit more frequently, following recent practice sessions, doing limited work on the side with coaches and trainers. His teammates noted earlier on Wednesday, that he has looked good and has been doing some non-contact work. McHale said he appears ready for practice, which is usually an indicator that a return to game action may not be far off or at least a return to available for game action.

"We definitely miss him on the court. He's such a great talent," James Harden said. "He's did so many great things for us last year, so hopefully he can be back and ready to go for us soon."