Houston Rockets want Dwight Howard, trying to trade Thomas Robinson

dwight-howardA few weeks ago, the Houston Rockets finished up a pretty solid season after making the playoffs and taking two games from the Western Conference’s number one seed, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, there is definitely room for improvement following a first round playoff exit, and the Rockets are looking to spend big in the free agent market this summer. Their first choice appears to be Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Apparently, Houston has been interested in Howard for quite some time and are trying to clear cap space for the seven-time NBA All-Star. Seeing as how he’ll command a maximum contract, the Rockets desperately want to have enough cap space by July’s free agency period. Their first step to making this happen involves attempting to unload top-five draft pick Thomas Robinson for anything they can get.

dwight-howardThe 6’10” power forward is expendable after a disappointing rookie season that was split between Sacramento and Houston. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote about this with the following:

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 the 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 the salary of Robinson and others, the Rockets will have the space to offer Howard a maximum deal starting at approximately $20.5 million a season.

thomas-robinsonIt’s no surprise that Robinson is trade bait in this situation. After being selected fifth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Kansas product has failed to live up to expectations. He played 51 games in his rookie season for Sacramento and averaged 4.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 0.4 BPG. Robinson was then traded to Houston, where he played the final 19 games of his rookie year and didn’t do much better after averaging 4.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.3 BPG.

Going back to Howard, the 6’11” rock-solid center would definitely give Houston the star power they need to enter the Western Conference’s upper echelon. The Rockets already feature shooting guard James Harden, who averaged 25.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.9 RPG and 1.82 SPG last season. They also have solid role players in Jeremy Lin (13.4 PPG, 6.1 APG), Chandler Parsons (15.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), Carlos Delfino (10.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG) and Omer Asik (10.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG).

Putting Dwight Howard in the middle of all this could make them a top 3-4 team next season. In 76 games for the Lakers, he averaged 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG while shooting 57.8% from the field. And these numbers came despite playing alongside several other career All-Stars such as Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

Of course, picking Howard up is no guarantee because the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors are also hot on his trail. Plus they still need to find a taker for Robinson, which may not yield a lot in return.

There’s also the matter of Los Angeles still being able to sign Howard. This is a definite possibility since the Lakers will have plenty of talent again next year. On the other hand, Howard may not want to relive last season’s disaster, where L.A. was most one of the most disappointing teams in NBA history.

The free agency period starts on July 1st, so it’ll be interesting to see where Howard is leaning after this point.

Plenty of Deals made at the NBA Trade Deadline

josh-smithGoing into the February 21st NBA trade deadline, the big question was whether the Atlanta Hawks would trade Josh Smith. The star forward, who averages 17.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 2.1 BPG, certainly drew plenty of interest; but he ultimately ended up staying put.

With the Smith trade rumors now squashed, it was a relatively quiet NBA trade deadline. However, there were some teams that made moves in an effort to either upgrade their club or dump salaries. That said, let’s take a quick look at some notable trades that happened yesterday.

Sacramento Kings deal No. 5 Pick Thomas Robinson to Houston Rockets

In perhaps what is the biggest trade deadline move, the Sacramento Kings sent fifth overall pick F Thomas Robinson, F Tyler Honeycutt and F/G Francisco Garcia to Houston for G/F Patrick Patterson, F Cole Aldrich and G Toney Douglas. The rookie Robinson (4.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG) hasn’t done a whole lot thus far, but he should get more chances in Houston’s high-powered offense. As for Sacramento, they’re getting a solid contributor right away in Patterson (11.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG), who shoots 51.9% from the floor.

jordan-crawfordWashington Wizards send Gunner Jordan Crawford to Boston Celtics

With their season going nowhere, the Wizards made a move to improve team chemistry by dealing unhappy G Jordan Crawford to the Celtics in exchange for G Leandro Barbosa and C Jason Collins. Crawford is averaging 13.2 PPG and 3.7 APG this season, but wasn’t happy playing second fiddle to John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt. He’ll get plenty of shots with the playoff-hopeful Celtics, who were desperate to fill the backcourt void left by an injured Barbosa and Rajon Rondo.

Orlando Magic send J.J. Redick to Milwaukee Bucks

The Magic are clearly in rebuilding mode and sent sharpshooting G J.J. Redick, C Gustavo Ayon and G Ish Smith to the Bucks in return for F Tobias Harris and G Doron Lamb. Redick (15.1 PPG, 4.4 APG) spent his first six and a half seasons with the Magic. However, his 3-year, $19 million contract is up after this season, and it appears that Orlando had no intention of paying even more money to re-sign him.

New York Knicks deal Ronnie Brewer to Oklahoma City Thunder

New York sent swingman Ronnie Brewer to the Thunder for a 2014 second round pick and cash considerations. Brewer (3.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG) actually started for the Knicks to open the season and helped them get off to a strong start. However, the Arkansas product quickly fell out of the starting lineup, and eventually out of the rotation altogether. New York plans to replace his roster spot with Kenyon Martin, who’s back from an injury.

sebastian-telfairPhoenix Suns send Sebastian Telfair to Toronto Raptors

Journeyman point guard Sebastian Telfair will be playing for his eighth team in nine seasons after being sent to the Raptors for C Hamed Haddadi and a 2014 second round pick. Telfair (7.5 PPG, 3.5 APG) had seen his minutes decline rapidly under new Phoenix coach Lindsey Hunter. But he should definitely get more playing time in Toronto after the Jose Calderon trade to Detroit.

Atlanta Hawks trade Anthony Morrow to Dallas Mavericks

As mentioned before, the Hawks didn’t pull off any big deal involving Josh Smith. However, they did trade G Anthony Morrow to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for G Dahntay Jones. Morrow (5.2 PPG) is an excellent shooter from 3-point range (39.5%), but has struggled with injuries this year. Jones (3.5 PPG) is a strong perimeter defender who should provide some quality minutes off the bench for Atlanta.