Essay: Thomas Robinson Finds A New Home
The NBA trade deadline is usually much more livelier, but this season has seen a less exciting process. With the large amount of activity in the offseason, and most teams waiting for Josh Smith to be moved, Rudy Gay heading to Toronto was the largest move we have seen thus far. But Sacramento decided to make things a bit more interesting by trading former top-5 pick Thomas Robinson to Houston for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, Cole Aldrich, and $1 million in cash. Houston also received Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt, along with a second-round pick from Phoenix. In return for the pick they sent Marcus Morris to Phoenix. This trade was mostly a platter of prospects and mediocre role players being moved, but it is not entirely devoid of intrigue.
Houston is currently 8th in the Western Conference, 3.5 games ahead of the 9th-seeded Lakers. While the Trailblazers have fallen off as a potential playoff candidate, the Lakers still have the potential to be a thread. Thus Houston would not readily do a trade that hurts them in the present, unless they were blown away by picks or a prospect. They gave away their starting power forward and current backup power forward, but this does not entirely mean that they sacrificed much in terms of being “win now”. Patrick Patterson is a solid offensive player, but he provides little in terms of rebounding and defense. Houston transformed Marcus Morris from a confused rookie into a decent role player. But Houston’s stock of big men cannot be underestimated, as they still have Greg Smith and Donatas Motiejunas to try and fill in the minutes opened up. In fact, Thomas Robinson may probably head to the D-League first to be evaluated and have to earn his playing time. Rookies for the Rockets do not get handed things, regardless of their history.
Thomas Robinson himself is an interesting case. I always thought he was overrated during his junior year of college, and went way too high. He is a bit undersized, and does not have great athleticism. I also thought his ability in the post was overrated, as he beat up guys in college more than use skillful moves. But the fact remains that he 1.) did not get much opportunity in Sacramento and 2.) had to develop in Sacramento. It cannot be underrated how much a toxic organization like the Sacramento Kings can affect the development of a player. I see him really starting his career in Houston. He also plays differently than Patterson, who is more skilled in the post and had an effective jumpshot. Robinson seems as if he will make his mark running the floor and trying to be a bruiser, basically somewhat like J.J Hickson plays like. But there is still potential lying within him.
Basically, this trade was nothing but a win for Houston. They may be slightly worse off for the current playoff push, but they managed to grab a former top-5 pick, several picks, and some more cap-space for this offseason. And rumors are floating around that this trade was actually a precursor to another trade that is coming up. So Daryl Morey must really be applauded for the way he has built this team from top to bottom.
When I first heard about the trade, I laughed. I honestly just laughed out loud, asking, “How can Sacramento be so stupid?” They essentially gave up on a player that they spent a season sucking for, and received a pittance. But once one calms down and properly assesses a situation, they can find that not everything is so black and white. While this trade was very good for the Rockets, it may not have been completely terrible for the Kings. Grabbing Patterson to add next to Cousins was a good move. Off the court, they have connections running back to college. Putting another guy in the locker room to help out their franchise player can only help. And Patterson is talented in his own right as well, despite his ineptitude on one side of the ball. It just seems that their reasoning (saving money) and what they gave up make this trade seem so terrible. And the Maloofs should absolutely be criticized for trying to save money off of giving away a former top-5 pick. But then again apparently the Seattle group that is set to purchase the team was informed about the trade beforehand, so who knows just how this is being judged in NBA circles.
Phoenix decided they were tired of being the butt of “lesser brother” jokes and decided to just grab both brothers. But the move seemed pretty lateral in all seriousness.
While this trade does not have the implications or flash of the Rudy Gay trade or a potential Josh Smith trade, it still brings us a lot of questions and possibilities. The storylines it changes, especially for the Rockets, will definitely keep things more interesting as the second half of the season beings.