In an attempt to shed some salary before the start of the free agency this summer, the Houston Rockets are interested in sending the recently acquired Thomas Robinson to his third team during his rookie season. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news yesterday that left most Rockets fans, myself included, asking the same question: why?
Robinson is 22 years old, was drafted with the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft less than one year ago, and will make $3.52 million next season. Robinson was moved to Houston in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, and Cole Aldrich at the trade deadline and averaged fewer minutes per game in Houston than he did in Sacramento. At 13 minutes per game for the Rockets, Robinson averaged 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 44.9% from the field. These numbers, and Robinson's activity on the floor this season, aren't anything to write home about but Robinson was never expected to make an immediate impact. Before, during, and after the draft scouts touted Robinson's offensive game as a work in progress.
Our very own BD34 devised an alternative plan for clearing cap space. Moving Terrence Jones and Royce White, two players with less perceived potential then TRob, would clear up around $3.3 million. That is still a bit less than Robinson's 2013-14 salary. Additionally, moving Royce White's guaranteed contract this summer without taking back any salary would be a monumental accomplishment bordering on impossible. If we all take a step back and put on our Morey goggles our first instinct should be to separate perceived value from actual value. How much more useful is a Thomas Robinson likely to be three years from now to the Rockets than a Terrence Jones? At less than half of the cost, Jones is a more versatile big man whose shaky jump shot fits better with Houston's "offense" and would complement a range-limited center like Omer Asik or perhaps, I don't know, Dwight Howard.
Wojnarowksi added more details about the kind of package the Rockets are likely to throw together:
The Rockets are targeting teams with the cap space to absorb Robinson's contract. The Rockets are trying to cobble together a package that could include assets such as a trade exception, a draft pick or non-guaranteed contracts that they can be unloaded, sources said.
Regardless of who gets traded or how, the Houston Rockets have made their priorities for the summer very obvious. Dwight Howard is on the menu. For better or worse.