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Bulls must do what they can to keep center Omer Asik

‘‘The thing thgets overlooked with Omer offensively is his ability screen get offensive boards. Those are all things thare big

‘‘The thing that gets overlooked with Omer offensively is his ability to screen and get to the offensive boards. Those are all things that are big in terms of winning.’’ — TOM THIBODEAU, Bulls coach, on Omer Asik

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Updated: August 4, 2012 6:25AM

Welcome to Turkish 101.

Repeat after me: ‘‘Para; money.’’


Now try, ‘‘Ücretli adam; Pay that man.’’

Very good.

Now you’re speaking Omer Asik’s language.

Thank you, that will be
$25 million.

Hey, no one said this lesson would come cheaply. Just ask the Bulls.

Ever wonder what the NBA’s going rate for a 7-foot, third-year player from Turkey is? One who averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds last season?

The Bulls found out Sunday, when reports had the Houston Rockets offering Asik — a restricted free agent — a three-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $25 million. That would be about $5 million in each of the next two seasons and nearly $15 million in the final season. The deal is expected to be made official July 11, with the Bulls having three days to match it.

‘‘First of all, I don’t want to speculate until we actually see something,’’ Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Monday. ‘‘Second of all, we’ve made it clear that we value Omer, and it’s been our goal that Omer would stay with the Chicago Bulls. But I’m not going to talk about any type of negotiation or anything contractually until we see something.’’

Oh, Gar’s going to be seeing something. And as ludicrous as it seems, it’s in his best interest to match the Rockets’ offer.

I’m guessing there aren’t many Bulls fans with an Asik Fathead stuck on their walls. Actually, it’s easy to look at Asik’s numbers and laugh at the idea of paying that type of money for a backup center.

The one person not laughing, however, is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. And if the Bulls plan on keeping Thibodeau around for a few more years, they had better give him a player that fills a very valuable role in his system.

Thibodeau loves guys who do the dirty work, and Asik is filthy in that regard.

‘‘Defensively . . . protect the rim, his rebounding,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘But the thing that gets overlooked with Omer offensively is his ability to screen and get to the offensive boards. Those are all things that are big in terms of winning. Sometimes you don’t quite see the value in his screening or his ability to help and shut the lane down, change shots at the rim. But he’s very important to our team.’’

The real values Asik brings, though, are his size and physicality. The one weakness the Miami Heat has shown since LeBron James joined the team is front-line play. Specifically, rebounding and opposing teams that make life around the rim hard.

The Bulls can’t match the Heat athletically — with or without the money they would save by letting Asik walk. So their best play is to stay mammoth up front with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Asik and Taj Gibson and hope Derrick Rose’s knee is healthy by midseason.

Luol Deng will be gone after the 2013-14 season and Boozer undoubtedly will be a candidate for the amnesty provision at that point, so there’s a good chance there will be a reload coming in 2014 anyway. That’s two more years for Asik’s game to continue to improve.

‘‘You have to look at the entire picture and see what makes the most sense, and I’m sure we’ll make a good decision in the end,’’ Thibodeau said.

‘‘Daha iyi olacagini ümit ediyorum.’’

Loosely translated, ‘‘You better hope so.’’

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