Hours before meeting with Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets reached an agreement to trade Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers and clear the necessary space to offer the star free-agent center a max contract, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Rockets can now present Howard with a four-year, $88 million contract in a late-night Sunday meeting in Los Angeles.
The Rockets are the frontrunners to sign Howard, and unloading Robinson's contract is the final hurdle to create the space necessary to make the move.
Portland will send the Rockets the draft rights to Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic and two future second-round picks, league sources said.
The deal can't become official until the NBA's moratorium on free-agency signings ends on July 10.
The trade sheds nearly $7 million off the Rockets' payroll over the next two seasons. Houston also waived two veteran players – Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks – earlier on Sunday to clear cap space.
Robinson, the fifth overall pick out of Kansas in 2012, has been traded twice within the past year. Sacramento moved him to Houston at the February trade deadline. After months of weighing offers, the Rockets have agreed to trade him to the Blazers.
So far, the transition to the NBA has been a struggle for Robinson. He's considered a longer-term project than originally anticipated after an All-American college career.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Complete list of NBA free agents
• Teams line up to court FA Dwight Howard
• Dwight Howard competes for video game championship on eve of free agency
- Sports & Recreation
- Dwight Howard
- Houston Rockets
- Portland Trail Blazers