At this time last year, D.C. native Thomas Robinson was on the verge of becoming a top-5 NBA Draft pick after a dominating season at the University of Kansas.
One year later and following a disappointing rookie campaign, the power forward is reportedly on the verge of being traded - for the second time -, according to a report from Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.
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.
Without Robinson's salary, the Rockets will have the space to offer Howard a maximum deal starting at approximately $20.5 million a season.
Obviously Howard, when healthy, is one of the NBA's true difference-makers so no justification is required for why the Rockets would look to shed salary. With James Harden already on the roster, adding Howard would propel Houston into legitimate NBA title contention.
Of course, it's made easier to move Robinson when the 6-foot-10 forward looked nothing like the player that generated 27 double-doubles as a junior with the Jayhawks. Drafted by the Kings and then shipped to the Rockets before the trading deadline, Robinson averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 70 games.
As for the what Robinson would cost in a trade, Wojnarowski reports Houston is "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."
As for the Wizards, while they could use a promising and athletic frontcourt option, Robinson would not solve their offensive needs -and the team already has young bigs that are still in the developmental stage.
Based on their approximate $57.4 million worth of current contract and last year's salary cap limit of $58 million, there is essentially no salary cap wiggle room. Washington has two trade exceptions - approximately $1.9 million from the Rashard Lewis trade and $1.3 for Jordan Crawford - but they cannot be combined. The Wizards have three draft picks, including two second-rounders, but the indications are the team is unlikely to keep all of them. Lastly, playing in one's hometown can always be a tricky proposition.
Combine all those factors plus the reality that the Wizards are seeking veteran help and not another project, it seems unlikely that Mr. Robinson would return to the neighborhood. Actually, it did last year as well even though many fans wanted the former Riverdale Baptist star, but taking a shooter (a.k.a. Bradley Beal) made more sense. Here is the summation I wrote in Robinson's draft profile for CSN last year:
"It's easy to understand the attraction, for the Wizards or another team. In a seemingly worst-case scenario, Robinson's rebounding and toughness make him a viable rotation player. The fear is that projection may be closer to the ultimate truth unless T-Rob can bully NBA players the way he did the collegians. Considering the Wizards have young bigs and perimeter needs, its also to understand if they pass on the hometown kid."