According to a Yahoo! Sports report released Thursday afternoon, the Houston Rockets are in the process of shopping Thomas Robinson and his $3.52 million 2013-14 salary in order to clear cap space to sign Dwight Howard.
This is just the latest clue in the Howard free agency mystery, in which any rumor might be taken as fact and any possible coincidence as a warning sign, and it’s hardly breaking news in the sense that it reveals some new wrinkle in the sweepstakes.
The Rockets want Howard.
They have the financial flexibility to acquire him, and now they’re ironing out the details.
Robinson played just 19 games in a Rockets uniform last season after being dealt by Sacramento to Houston near the trade deadline. The fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Robinson will likely be playing for his third team in two seasons by the end of this summer, and the promise that led Houston to deal for him has hardly played out.
If the Rockets can drop Robinson from their books, they’ll be able to offer Howard a max deal in the neighborhood of $20.5 million per season. That’s still less than the sum (about $23 million yearly) the Lakers could pay him, but close enough to interest the big man, especially with Texas’ lack of state income taxes.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has never been shy about his intentions with his young team, which at this time last spring had a roster that appeared to be in total disarray. (Ten months later, it was a playoff team.) Morey made the deal that shook up the 2012-13 season when he dealt for James Harden just days before his team’s opening game, and he’s still in the hunt for another superstar to pair with his star shooting guard.
Also of note: Houston forward Chandler Parsons signed with Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, earlier in May. Although that’s hardly an indication that Howard signing in Houston is a done deal, it could be a sign that Fegan is expanding his presence with the Rockets.