Welcome to Rip City, TRob
On the eve of the Association’s moratorium, the two teams agreed upon a deal that sent future second-round picks and the rights to European prospects to Houston.
Why would the Rockets give up Thomas Robinson for practically nothing? For starters, it allowed them to offer a maximum contract to Dwight Howard in free agency. There’s also the notion that Robinson is a bust at this stage in his career, but we’ll touch on that a bit later.
If there’s one thing to take away from this move, it’s that Portland got a steal of a deal. The team helped set itself up for the future, and it helped add a few key characteristics that will be crucial in the midst of the current rebuild.
The Trail Blazers entered the 2013 offseason needing to add depth, and they’ve done a tremendous job of doing that thus far.
Starting with the draft, the team brought on CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe and Jeff Withey. The three prospects will play their roles behind the starters, and now Robinson will do the same at the power forward position.
The Blazers haven’t had a true backup at the 4-spot in quite some time. There hasn’t been much need with LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way, but with the center position being a problem, the team has used players out of position since drafting Greg Oden.
Robinson is going to give the Blazers somebody who is officially a backup power forward. The youngster may have ambitions of someday being a starter, but for now, he’ll help Portland off the bench as he molds into the player he hopes he can someday be.
The Blazers don’t have a lot of players on their roster who are known for toughness. The days of The Enforcer are long gone, but luckily for the team, Robinson will be a step in the right direction.
At 6’10”, 230 pounds, Robinson is a beast on the boards. He averaged nearly five rebounds per game in just 15.9 minutes with the Sacramento Kings, and he averaged 4.1 in just 13 minutes with the Rockets.
The downside to such toughness? Robinson also brings a bit of an attitude—one that landed him a two-game suspension as a member of the Kings following an elbow to Jonas Jerebko.
As long as Robinson can use his aggression for good and not for evil, he’ll be just fine. Rip City is far enough removed from the days of the Jail Blazers, and adding someone who can be nasty game in and game out is a step in going to help them compete on a gritty level.
Potential is only a good thing when it amounts to production down the road. Luckily for the Blazers, they’ve stolen a player who should learn how to produce behind LaMarcus Aldridge—a player who could realistically leave in two years when his contract is up.
Thomas was selected fifth in the 2012 draft for a reason. He had the best rebound rate of anybody in his class, and he has the athleticism to be an incredible player at the NBA level.
The Blazers are beyond happy with what Damian Lillard has done, but they would have had to take a hard look at Robinson if he had slipped past the Kings at No. 5.
Having completed his first year in the Association, Robinson is looked at as a bust by a number of people. He’s been traded twice, he’s on his third team and he’s yet to live up to the hype.
Portland, however, sees his upside, and recognizes that he was drafted into one of the worst organizations in all of basketball. The Kings have yet to show they know how to groom or jell talent, and players such as DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans exemplify that notion.
Even in Houston, Robinson was going to be a bargaining chip to obtain a superstar down the road, and he never got the chance that he’ll now earn in Portland.
Rim-Rattling Highlight Reels
Every fan loves a solid highlight reel. If Robinson is able to earn time in Portland, he’ll put together quite the highlight package for fans and scouts to watch night in and night out.
Robinson’s physical tools are incredible. He’s not a great example of the stretch 4 that has taken over the NBA, but he has the athleticism and strength to make up for anything he lacks in height at the position.
Robinson is going to get above the rim and finish hard for fans in Portland. JJ Hickson showed that ability at times during his stay, but this guy is going to make him look like Zach Randolph when it comes to athletic ability.
Simply put: With Robinson on board, the Blazers should be featured on Top 10’s far more than they were in 2012-13.
A Newfound Relationship with the Rockets
You can twist this trade any direction you want, but it always comes back to one simple fact: The Trail Blazers helped the Rockets big time by taking on Robinson’s contract.
The Rockets have made it clear that they want Howard, and in order to do that, they had to give away Robinson in a lopsided deal. The Blazers jumped in and saved the day, and now a newfound relationship has been formed.
If the Rockets acquire Howard via free agency, Omer Asik becomes expendable. The big man has proven to be good defensively and great on the boards, and according to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, the Blazers are “monitoring” Asik’s situation.
Even if Houston lands its man, nobody is a shoo-in to get the big man. But following a deal where the Blazers scratched the Rockets’ back, you never know what might happen somewhere down the road.