The Chicago Bulls are in Houston to take on the Rockets on Wednesday night and trying to avoid three consecutive losses for the first time ever in the Tom Thibodeau era. The Bulls have had poor outings back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trailblazers and are looking to turn things around against a Rockets squad and a familiar face in Omer Asik.
The story of how Omer landed in Houston is a familiar and somewhat painful one for Bulls fans. A key reserve during last year’s successful season, management was forced to let him walk because of the “poison pill” provision included in his $25 million Rockets offer sheet.
Asik is in the midst of a breakout season and according to the Chicago Tribune, the team knew what they would be missing when they had no other recourse but to watch him head south.
"When you look at what he did throughout his career, the two years in Chicago, each year he got significantly better," said Tom Thibodeau. "He was playing behind Noah, so there's not a ton of minutes there, but we felt strongly about how good he was and we knew that.
"And we also understand that he has the right characteristics, the right makeup. He has great drive, great character and intelligence so those type of players always improve. It's not surprising. He's getting more minutes, so his production is going to be better."
During the preseason, it seemed that Nazr Mohammed would make fans forget about “Big O.” But Mohammed hasn’t seen the court much and when looking at a Rockets box score, fans are left shaking their heads and just how productive Omer is and thoughts immediately switch to what might have been.
But at 5-5 and struggling, there is no time for nostalgia or reminiscing on this current Bulls squad. Omer is now just another player on the opposing team and although it’ll feel good to see their former teammate and catch up with him, at the end of the day the focus is on winning the game and improving as a collective group.