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Friday, May 18, 2012
Bulls player recap: Omer Asik

By Nick Friedell

Omer Asik
Bulls center Omer Asik played well in Game 6 against the 76ers -- until the closing seconds.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster and see where they fit in for the future.

Omer Asik

Position: Center | Age: 25 | 2011-12 salary: $1,857,000

Season recap: After such a promising rookie year in the NBA last season, Asik took a step backwards in his progression. He is still a very solid defender, but his offensive game stalled. He struggled to catch the ball in the post and make much of an impact. The Bulls relied on his defensive presence, but they could not go to him as much as Tom Thibodeau would have liked because of his struggles on the offensive end.

Season highlight: Asik's highlight and lowlight of the season probably came in the same game. The highlight was his performance for the first 47:52 of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Starting in place of Joakim Noah, who was out with an ankle injury, Asik scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and played 39 minutes. He was completely exhausted by the end of the game, but he played his heart out.

Season lowlight: Asik struggled to contribute at various points throughout the season, but the final eight seconds of Game 6 will haunt him throughout the summer. He stepped to the line with a chance to give the Bulls a three-point lead and missed both free throws. After Andre Iguodala grabbed the rebound and raced up the floor, Asik raced back but ended up fouling him with 2.2 seconds left. Iguodala ended up making both free throws -- ending the game, and the Bulls' season, in the process.

Notes: The Bulls still believe Asik has a lot of room to grow in his game. The coaches work with him all the time on catching the ball, he just struggles to take what he's learned in practice to the games. Asik is one of the best defenders on the Bulls and is going to be even better, but if he can't improve offensively it won't make much a difference. The good news for the Bulls is that Asik remains durable. He played in every game this season.

Quotes: "I think Omer played a great game," Noah said after Game 6. "I feel like he's someone who works really, really hard and he's my teammate. I hate to see any of my teammates down. When one of us is we're all down. We win together and we lose together. It's all of us."

What's next?: Asik is in the middle of one of the most pressing questions of the Bulls' offseason. Should the organization pay whatever it takes to sign him to an extension? As a restricted free agent, another team can sign Asik to an offer sheet and the Bulls will have a right to match. They want to bring Omer back, but at what price? If the price is too steep and the Bulls decide they don't want to go too deep into the luxury tax, they may decide to let him walk. If they do, the Bulls then get into an even bigger quandary, given the only center on the roster will be Noah.

FINAL GRADES: Regular Season: C-. Postseason: C-.