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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.
Houston is competing mainly with Dallas – and possibly Golden State – to lure Howard once free agency commences on July 1. Howard has become increasingly intrigued with the Rockets as a possible destination, sources said. Houston's supporting cast, including James Harden and Chandler Parsons, is one of the reasons.
The Rockets are 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.
The Rockets are the second team to move him since he came out of Kansas considered one of the most prepared prospects in the class. The Rockets' coaching staff prefers forwards who can space the floor with their shooting ability but the 6-foot-10 Robinson is a more traditional back-to-the-basket power forward.
His $3.5 million salary most closely matches the money that the Rockets need to unload in order to help secure a maximum contract swap for Howard.
Robinson, 22, averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds playing a combined 70 games for the Rockets and Kings. Sacramento traded him to Houston in a package that included Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and cash.
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