Daryl Morey has a dinner date with Dwight Howard in a little more than three hours, but that's not all that is on his mind right now. With the need to clear cap space for a potential max free agent signing, the Rockets have agreed to trade Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers. Adrian Wojnarowski of Y! Sports had it first.
Houston has traded Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers, league source tells Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Portland will send Houston two future second-round picks and the draft rights to two foreign players, league sources tells Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Portland will send the rights to Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic to the Rockets, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Essentially, the Rockets are dumping Robinson and giving themselves four chances at finding an intriguing player. Papanikolaou is a 2012 draftee with a lot of upside as a three-and-D wing player. He stands 6'8", and has an intriguing profile of excellent shooting and defensive upside.
Todorovic is a raw, 6'11" center with a long way to go on both sides of the ball, but at least has some potential purely on his athletic ability alone. Expect him to stay in Spain for the next few years before the Rockets try and bring him over.
And then you have the pair of second round picks. Morey has done magic in the second round in the past, finding guys like Chase Budinger, Carl Landry, and Chandler Parsons. Giving him more shots at prospects that slip can't hurt.
When all is said and done, this is a very mutually beneficial deal for both sides. The Rockets head into their meeting with Dwight Howard knowing that they have the space to offer him a max deal, ditching a player buried on the depth chart, and the Trail Blazers land a highly valued prospect for quite a discount.
Still, if the Rockets strike out on Howard, this deal could be one that makes them kick themselves. Robinson may have been mediocre in his first stint with the Rockets, but he still is extremely athletic and has tremendous upside. Matt Moore of CBS Sports may have said it best: "If Rockets don't get Dwight, it's going to be like selling your house and car for top value. Hey, all the money! Hey, I'm homeless/carless."