Feb 21 2013 9:52AM

Rockets Hit The Lottery

Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images

With the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Thomas Robinson from the University of Kansas.

And on Wednesday, the Kings traded him to the Houston Rockets.


I know.

That's what all the smart people were saying on Twitter as word of this trade leaked out in the evening hours that the Sacramento Kings traded Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt to the Houston for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich, while the Rockets also sent Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round pick.

Basically, the Rockets traded away three leveling-off youngsters nearing the end of their rookie deals (starter Patterson, second-stringer Douglas and third-stringer Aldrich) to the Kings, while also shipping developing prospect Morris to Phoenix.

That move trimmed $1.6 million off next season's payroll, placing Houston $21 million under an estimated $60 million salary cap in 2013-14, when you factor in that Robinson is the only acquisition they have to pay next season ($3.5 million).

That means the Rockets can keep James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Royce White, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, exercise options on Carlos Delfino, Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith, and still sign a max free agent this summer, while also adding a $5 million mid-level exception player to a very strong team.

And in addition, the Rockets now have Robinson--their newest starter and valuable trade chip as the No. 5 pick in the draft--who has been under-utilized in Sacramento this season, playing 16 minutes per game in 51 contests.

The 21-year-old Robinson's per-36 minute stats translate to 11 points and 10 rebounds, which indicate the 6-10, 237-pounder can do a man's job as a rebounder for a team that ranks 11th in board work. Houston's former two main power forwards--Patterson and Morris--had rebound rates of only 10.3 and 10.8 percent, while Robinson tests out at 16.8 percent, which ranks fourth among all rookies.

Robinson fills a team need, able to take Rockets rebounding up a notch, while still possessing major upside in other departments.

The Suns made out well, landing Morris to give Phoenix the stretch four they've been lacking ever since Channing Frye was lost for the season due to an enlarged heart. And all it cost the Suns was a second-round pick, which was shipped out to Houston.

Sacramento, on the other hand, got very little out of this deal, other than the $1 million cash they received from Houston and the $1.3 million savings in 2012-13 prorated salaries.

I would be shocked if either Patterson or Douglas or Aldrich average 20 minutes per game for the Kings this season. And Patterson, who earns $3.1 million in 2013-14, is likely the only King acquisition in the deal who will stick with Sacramento--or Seattle, if they move--next season.

You have to ask yourself, Why did the Kings do this deal?

Patterson, a three-year NBA vet at age 23, is not going to supplant DeMarcus Cousins or Jason Thompson in the starting lineup, and probably won't unseat Chuck Hayes or James Johnson as a backup.

He doesn't have the upside or trade value as the No. 5 pick Robinson.

So you have to ask yourself Why?


How did Rockets GM Daryl Morey--HOOP's Executive of the Year favorite even before this trade was made--find another diamond in the rough, and why did the Kings give him up so quickly?

Who knows?