Less than one year after he was drafted No. 5 overall by the Sacramento Kings, it looks like Thomas Robinson is on the precipice of playing for his third franchise. According to a report from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets are "determined" to trade the former Kansas star and will feverishly shop him before the beginning of free agency.
Executives with multiple teams have said Houston plans on moving Robinson for the best offer presented. The Rockets have been in contact with teams under the salary cap, looking to acquire non-guaranteed contracts, trade exceptions or draft picks that they could then flip to another team.
The motivation for the deal is simple: Houston wants to wipe out Robinson's $3.52 million salary from its 2013-14 cap in an effort to land free-agent superstar Dwight Howard.
Often speculated as a possible Howard destination by media types, reports have surfaced that Houston has become high on the center's potential list of suitors. CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that Howard was "intrigued" by the Rockets' burgeoning young core, which includes James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is expected to push hard this summer to land a second superstar next to Harden. Houston's window with cap space is relatively short, so the team is expected to strike.
The mercurial center is a perfect fit with Houston's one-in, four-out spread system—even after a frustrating 2012-13 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
As for Robinson, what this means for his career trajectory is anyone's guess. The Kings sent Robinson to Houston at the trade deadline for a package that brought back Patrick Patterson, center Cole Aldrich and guard Toney Douglas. Francisco Garcia also went to the Rockets in the deal.
Seen at the time as a major win for Houston, Robinson failed to mesh with the Rockets' high-octane offense down the stretch.
He averaged 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and shot 44.9 percent from the field in 19 games with the club. By the end of the season, he was completely out of the rotation, failing to appear in any of the Rockets' first-round playoff games against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Robinson, a strong power forward who was a bully in the post at Kansas, looked out of sorts in the Rockets' fast-paced attack. He was unable to pick up the complexities of the scheme, and defenses failed to respect him in pick-and-pop opportunities—a key staple of Houston's offense.
With Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and (maybe) Royce White on the roster heading into next season, it's easy to see how Robinson became expendable. All three of those players space the floor better, keeping the lane unclogged as Harden, Lin and whomever else comes barreling through on a drive.
Whether trading Robinson ultimately lands the Rockets Howard is anyone's guess. But Houston probably won't be missing much even if it fails to land the summer's biggest fish.
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