Rockets trade Thomas Robinson to Portland in final cap-clearing move

Thomas Robinson gets traded for the second time Sunday.    (USATSI)
Thomas Robinson was traded for the second time Sunday. (USATSI)

The Houston Rockets have cleared the decks for Dwight Howard to land. 

The Rockets made their final moves Sunday to create enough cap space to offer Howard the max deal, just hours before the opening of the NBA free agency period at 12:01 a.m. ET Monday. After renouncing the rights to Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, the Rockets traded rookie forward Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks and the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Marko Todorovic, league sources confirmed to Ken Berger of

Berger also reports the Rockets have made Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik available for trades in order to make a second max contract offer available and form another "Big 3" with James Harden.

Robinson becomes just the second top-five pick to be traded twice before his second season in the league begins, after Chauncey Billups. The Kansas product, traded at the deadline, averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season for the Kings and Rockets. The move was clearly made by the Rockets with the firm belief they are in pole position to sign Howard in free agency. 

For Portland, this is a no-lose proposition. They now have two top-10 picks from the 2012 draft in Robinson and Damian Lillard, and a power forward to add to their pitiful bench. Robinson didn't play for the Kings or Rockets for a reason last season, but will have a better opportunity in Portland, and still has the talent to make the most of it. 

For Houston, all their eggs are in the Dwight Howard basket. You assume they wouldn't put themselves this far out on a ledge if they weren't sure they were going to get Howard. 

But as we've learned, the only thing you can be sure of is Howard will continue to leave the league in chaos for as long as possible.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories
    24/7 Scores, News, Highlights