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Report: Rockets trying to trade Thomas Robinson to clear cap space in pursuit of Dwight Howard

May 30, 2013, 6:36 PM EDT

Houston Rockets Patrick Beverly attempts to steal the ball from Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

The Rockets were expected to be heavily involved in the pursuit of Dwight Howard this summer, and that was even before Howard was reportedly intrigued with the opportunity of playing in Houston moving forward.

Now, with July’s free agency period rapidly approaching, the Rockets are in the process of trying to create enough space under the salary cap to offer Howard the maximum contract he’ll require once he hits the open market. Houston’s initial run at doing so involves trying to essentially give away a player who was a top-five pick in the 2012 draft.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Houston Rockets are determined to trade forward Thomas Robinson – the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft – to create salary-cap space for the pursuit of Los Angeles Lakers’ free-agent superstar Dwight Howard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Rockets have made clear to multiple rival teams that they plan to accept the best offer to move Robinson and eliminate his $3.52 million salary for the 2013-14 season.

Robinson has been unable to make an impact on two NBA teams now, after being selected by Sacramento in the draft and then getting traded to the Rockets in the middle of this past season.

As for what teams will have to give up to acquire Robinson, well, it won’t be much considering the way the Rockets have announced both his availability, as well as their intentions. Houston will be looking for a draft pick, a trade exception, or non-guaranteed contracts it can unload later — basically, anything that will allow the team to shed Robinson’s contract to create enough space to be able to go after Howard.

The Rockets are a team likely high on Howard’s list for two reasons — one, there’s James Harden, who’s a compelling young superstar that can handle the bulk of the scoring as well as some of the media attention. The second and much more important reason that may factor into Howard leaving Los Angeles (and what makes Houston an attractive destination) is that there isn’t nearly as much pressure to win on the scale that there is while playing for the legendary Lakers franchise.

If Howard leaves L.A., it will be because he wasn’t interested in having those championship-level expectations placed upon his broad shoulders year after excruciating year. Houston would be a fine place to go to potentially win while avoiding what can be a soul-crushing burden for someone without the right mindset to deal with it, and this reported move to clear the cap space necessary to make a run at Howard is the Rockets’ first step in attempting to make that a reality.

  1. danielcp0303 - May 30, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Have to think the Rockets feel very confident when it comes to signing Dwight Howard. Even if they don’t get Howard, this is a good move (assuming they can get a future first or something like that). He’s still got some value and there are some bottom feeding teams that could use Robinson. Good GM’s keep recycling assets.

  2. kingbeason52 - May 30, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    “If Howard leaves L.A., it will be because he wasn’t interested in having those championship-level expectations placed upon his broad shoulders year after excruciating year.”

    If that statement is true than Howard is truly a coward..

    • bendover09 - May 30, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      Sounds more like a spoiled LA fan who all of sudden can’t have his way .

    • danfrommv - May 31, 2013 at 3:21 AM

      Have to agree. DH12 talks a big game about wanting championships, but he doesn’t have the mental make-up of any of the following: Kareem, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, Jordan, Bird, Garnett, etc., etc. A good player with fragile emotions. Plays great defense (when healthy), and marginal defense. Wants to get paid the max and be treated like a superstar while playinng marginal offense and whining like a little b**ch

  3. dadeyemi - May 30, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    This is madness. In 3 years, Robinson will be one of the best rebounders in the game

    • drhamepace - May 30, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Robinson has only been with the Rockets a short time…they are stupid if they think players will be the “best” they will be in a few months…this has been going on with the Rockets for a long long time…they will get good players…keep them for a season…trade them off…start all over again…makes me wonder if they really want to win!!! And NO, Howard needs to stay in LA…not Houston.

  4. sportsnut101 - May 30, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    Why would rockets need to clear cap. They have plenty of room this coming season unless they just don’t want him

    Well if they looking to trade him to get cap it would be for a draft so they don’t take salary back

    Bulls should trade for him

    • Kurt Helin - May 30, 2013 at 7:25 PM

      They do not have enough room. In addition to salaries there are things like cap holds that take up space and to offer a $20 million contract you have to be that far under the cap. The Rockets are not yet.

      • bougin89 - May 30, 2013 at 10:48 PM

        Sportsnut and arod13…do we really respond to them? Let the kids have their weird ideas posted. We try to ignore them.

  5. johnduta - May 30, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    If money, sanity of mind, support and possible ring or rings then go to Texas, be it San Antonio, Dallas or Houston. They will give the coaches D12 needs, and proper player support. LA Lakers will give you Jimmy Bee and his coaches, ouch. Money sign a 2 or 3 year deal only, and then after the rings sign the 5 year max. Oh by the way Texas has no state tax so D12 makes more. Cost of living and quality well surpise, surpise, surpise.
    Maybe the Lakers if they thought about this would pick up this Houston player. We will need some great players for the future.

  6. Matteo X - May 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Howard does not have the heart of a champion. We’ve seen it too many times. There is a lack of the maturity and team spirit that makes champions.

    Harden much that I love his game is not that leader either. Houston has tremendous talent, but the pieces need to fit.

    • raidernation53 - May 30, 2013 at 7:57 PM

      Not all talented players necessarily need heart to win a championship… look at Bynum. James Harden on the other hand does have heart, with the right talent surrounding them the Rockets could win a championship. This is comin from a Spurs fan

      • dudermcrbohan - May 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

        Bynum wasn’t the centerpiece of those Lakers teams. Howard wants to be the centerpiece, the first option (obviously he wouldn’t be in Houston though)

  7. actor1989 - May 30, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Here in Los Angeles, we expect championships and if a player can’t handle that then we welcome you to leave and go some place else. D Howard is not a champion I can tell by the level of responsibility he wouldn’t accept while here in LA for this past year. One thing about the Lakers, we have 16 banners up there at the Staples center, we will alright with or without D Howard.

    • thesportsjudge - May 30, 2013 at 11:45 PM

      So you didn’t see that the years before in Orlando? Let me guess, you didn’t want Dwight from day 1 and were vocal about your opposition? I doubt it.

    • danfrommv - May 31, 2013 at 3:23 AM

      Amen. DH is fragile. Not a champion. Wants max pay but wants to be the 3rd best player on the team so he doesn’t get challenged. Adios

      • danfrommv - May 31, 2013 at 3:25 AM

        He MAY win a championship with Houston, but only if Harden steps up. He would only be along for the ride. He is NOT someone to build your franchise around. Demonstrated that on many occasions this year

  8. themagicfanguy - May 30, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    I’d love if the Magic could find a way to grab him. We have two or three trade exceptions, plus high 2nd round picks in the future. Of course we would have to find a way to rid ourselves or of Big Baby or Harrington first.

  9. eaglessuperfan - May 30, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Former Asst GM is now in Philadelphia…… Sixers on line one….

  10. eaglessuperfan - May 30, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    Sorry for second post but 4.8ppg 4.5rpg .5bpg in only 15 mins that would translate to 10 10 and 1 in 30 plus or starters mins pretty sure the Sixers could use that down low

  11. 00maltliquor - May 30, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Shtt, trade him to us and we’ll gift you Dwight! Throw in Asik and Parsons too and I’d be coo’!

    • wlubake - May 31, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      I know you are joking, but I’ve seen a few folks talk about L.A. trading Howard. It can’t happen, from my understanding. He can’t be traded now because he is an expiring contract this year. He can’t sign and trade because of the Lakers’ cap situation. The Lakers can either sign him to a max and ride him for a year before trading him, or watch him leave without getting anything in return.

      Not a great position to be in. All of your chips have to go to resigning him.

  12. realtalk90 - May 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    thomas robinson to the SPURS he is a major upgrade to blair.

  13. savvybynature - May 30, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    If he plans to leave, wouldn’t it make sense for the Lakers and Howard to do a sign and trade and bring back something like Asik, Robinson and maybe Lin?
    I don’t now if matching salaries are required to do a sign and trade, but this would likely get Houston there or close, I’m sure Howard wouldn’t mind the extra year and $$$, and the Lakers are definitely gonna need some young bodies if they are losing Howard (and Lin would be a good protege for Nash in DÁntoni’s system).

  14. richyrichhh - May 31, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    why is no one giving Robinson a chance to develop before giving up on him? he was 5th overall why wouldn’t a team want to just wait and see how he turns out for a high lottery pick, especially a big man

  15. louhudson23 - May 31, 2013 at 4:09 AM

    Houston is on the way up…why in the world they would want to become a movie set for the drama that is Dwight Howard is puzzling….With his once mighty(but limited) skill set clearly declining(without ever really improving or expanding) and the circus that goes with his never ending contract saga and ego…. a momentum stopper if there ever was one….

  16. spideysdog - May 31, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    if I’m Houston, I don’t make the move. too many red flags. somebody, I guarandamntee you, is going to regret maxing this guy. he has contract albatross written all over him.

    let’s review Howard moments….

    Demanded a trade in Orlando.
    Declined the trade when it was made and signed one year option
    Tossed a damn good coach (vanGundy) under the bus to the media.
    Resposnsible for getting said coach fired
    Demanded trade again
    Goes to LA
    Has Mike Brown for a coach for 5 games before he is ran
    Makes comments about he took a bunch of players nobody wanted to the Finals
    Goes to the AllStar game and mocks his teammate in the locker room.
    Publicly questions his role in the media
    Blasts coach and system in exit interview
    Declares desire to test free agency

    The guy is amazingly talented as a physical specimen. Even with the emergence of Hibbert this postseason, I think Howard is still, skill wise, the best center in the league.

    That being said, he’s temperamental, indecisive, doesn’t handle expectations, and doesn’t understand image and PR, showing a lack of insight. Top that all off, with the shoulder and back problems on a guy that sized….

    not saying he’s Andrew Bynum type bust, but to lock up 28-30% of your cap space in this guy is one hell of a roll of the dice.

    do t think I would do it.

  17. realtalk90 - May 31, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    who ever gets robinson gets a good player he just needs the right players with and time on the floor. D12 is a good fit for the rockets with harden but he doesnt deserve a max contract. if he wants out of LA to go to a small market team he needs to take a pay cut to do so. rockets could use the money for other key players to help out.

  18. loungefly74 - May 31, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    im curious to know what is Dwight’s ideal scenario? is it to be the “man” in a big city with lots of attention? i’m not sure what he wants? make up your mind. here is a kid who would have benefited greatly from just 1 year of college ball…during that time, he could have taken a “Critical Analysis” class.

  19. blitzrunner29 - May 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    “Robinson has been unable to make an impact on two NBA teams now, after being selected by Sacramento in the draft and then getting traded to the Rockets in the middle of this past season.”

    Good grief. He has played one freaking season in the NBA, half of which was on a team that is poorly constructed with several headcases. The dude was a beast in college…..give him a little more time before writing him off.

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