Rockets Likely to Deal Robinson Before the Draft to Free Up Cap Room for Howard
According to a report from the Chron, the Rockets are very close to moving power forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth pick in last year's draft acquired from the Sacramento Kings at the trading deadline, in order to free up enough cap space to make a run at free agent center Dwight Howard.
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A deal of this nature has been speculated since the season ended and the Rockets made it clear they are going after Howard, attempting to make the all-star big man a part of their rotation joining James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin. All indications are that if Howard does decide to leave Los Angeles, Houston would be at the top of his list of ultimate landing destinations.
In order to sign Howard to a max contract, the Rockets must get out from under at least one contract and Robinson's appears to be the one. One deal with Cleveland could net the Rockets a first round draft pick -- they currently do not have a pick in the first round -- but there are other options available include trade exceptions and players with non-guaranteed contracts.
Robinson came in behind the eight ball last season and never got significant playing time. The youngster is a superior athlete, but it seemed clear by the postseason that the Rockets felt comfortable with Terrence Jones and Dontas Montejunas moving forward, particularly if they put them next to a big man like Howard.
Additionally, adding Howard would place surprise center Omer Asik back into the backup role he had in Chicago and give the Rockets a consistent defensive presence at center. It also provides insurance should Howard suffer an injury.
At this point, all eyes are on the Rockets and Howard even as the draft approaches Thursday. Free agency opens Monday and the entire league will be focused on Howard and fellow free agent Chris Paul, though with the acquisition of coach Doc Rivers, indications are Paul will be back with the Clippers.