The Houston Rockets have traded Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The trade is expected to free up enough cap space for the Rockets to offer Dwight Howard a maximum contract.
Houston will get the rights to Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic and two second-round picks in exchange for Robinson. Both players are likely to remain in Europe next season, meaning the Rockets are not taking on any salary, while offloading Robinson's $3.5 million salary next season. The Rockets now have over $20 million in cap space after trading Robinson and releasing Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, both of whom have non-guaranteed contracts.
The Rockets will be the first team to meet with Howard once free agency opens. The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are also in the mix for the center, but the Rockets have been rumored to be Howard's most likely destination.
Robinson now becomes the odd player to have been traded twice within a year of being selected in the top five of the NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings drafted Robinson No. 5 overall last season, but traded him to Houston at the trade deadline for Patrick Patterson and Francisco Garcia. With Terrence Jones, Greg Smith and Donatas Motiejunas ahead of him at power forward, Robinson struggled to earn playing time with the Rockets and will now head to Portland.
The Trail Blazers have LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward so Robinson will have to fight for playing time in Portland, but Aldridge can play center and he has been rumored to be available in a trade.