The Houston Rockets are looking to trade power forward, Thomas Robinson, in order to clear capspace for the pursuit of Dwight Howard. The Rockets received Robinson from the Kings at the 2013 trade deadline in a deal that sent Cole Aldrich, Tony Douglas, and Patrick Patterson to Sacramento. Robinson was selected #5 by the Kings in the 2012 NBA draft. So should the Blazers throw their hat in the ring?
Portland only has four players truly capable of playing power forward; LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson, Victor Claver, and Joel Freeland. Aldridge is a guaranteed starter, Hickson will be gone in free agency, Claver is more of a small forward, and Freeland is… awful. The Blazers find themselves in need of budget frontcourt players for next season.
Thomas Robinson is owed $3.5 million next year and is nowhere near his ceiling. In fact, he struggled to fit in with both the crowded Sacramento frontcourt and the overflowing Houston roster (who needs five power forwards? Really?). The Blazers have a number of cheap young players to offer Houston, and a good spot for Robinson.
Even from a non-basketball standpoint Robinson fits the Blazers’ persona. He won the hearts and minds of many fans for his family initiative after losing his grandparents and mother; declaring that he would achieve professional success in order to care for his little sister- A subject briefly addressed during his draft selection. The Blazers generally aim for players with upstanding character, and Robinson fits the bill.
As for actual basketball, Robinson has excellent positioning on offense and defense and is noted for being a post-up player. At 6’9”, 244 lbs, Robinson is more than just a warm body to play relief minutes. He is a legitimate weapon that has been under-utilized. Most breakout stars are, in part, products of situational circumstance (see Damian Lillard). A Blazers/Robinson pairing could be mutually beneficial.
He is not without his drawbacks (FT% and personal fouls) but those are among the most fixable rookie problems. Robinson is great at altering shots and is a prolific rebounder- especially on the offensive end. 2nd chance opportunities can win or lose a game for you and the Blazers struggled mightily with them all season.
So say Thomas Robinson were to succeed in Portland’s bench rotation. He could become indispensable free agency insurance for LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015. If the Blazers can put together a worthwhile package, I fully condone pursuing the young forward. He is an inexpensive option with tremendous upside and scary potential. With Portland’s depleted frontcourt, Houston’s motivation to trade, and Robinson’s present lack of identity, the cards could fall in the Blazers’ favor.