The trade won’t be complete until after the draft due to the league’s ban on trading first-round picks in consecutive years. Instead of swapping the 2020 pick, the Blazers will pick the player Houston wants on Wednesday, and then that player’s draft rights will be included in the final deal.
With Russell Westbrook and James Harden having already asked to leave Houston, dealing with Covington – an integral part of the Rockets’ smallball offense after arriving from Minnesota in February – could be the first step in a fire sale that initiates a full reconstruction.
Let’s describe how the two sides of this trade compete.
The Portland Trail Blazers receive:
The Houston Rockets Receive:
- Pick 16 in 2020 NBA Draft
- 2021 Protected First-Round Draft Pick
Portland Commercial Grade: A
Covington will be a welcome addition for the Blazers, who lacked wing depth all last season after the departure of Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless. The modern prototypical NBA 3 and D wing, the 6ft 7in Covington is a career 36% 3-point shooter who should be able to space the ground for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in a Portland offense. who finished third in efficiency. last season at 113.2 points per 100 possessions.
Defense, however, is where Covington will have the greatest impact, thanks to his ability to hold multiple positions and take up deflections, flights and blocks with his long arms and active hands. The Blazers had the fourth-worst defense in the NBA last season, allowing 114.3 points per 100 possessions, having finished 16th in 2018-19 and sixth in 2017-18.
All in all, it’s a win-now decision for the Blazers, who clearly feel Covington can help them improve when they come out in the first round of the final postseason. A core of Lillard, McCollum, Covington and Jusuf Nurkic could pose a serious threat in the crowded Western Conference.
Houston Commercial Grade: B-less
The Rockets re-acquire Ariza, who averaged 12.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals while pulling 36% from the 3-point line in four seasons with Houston from 2014 to 2018, his second stint with the ‘team. He averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Rockets in 2009-10. Ariza’s third stint with Houston may not last long if he’s truly embroiled in a rebuild, as he’s a strong contender to be turned into a contender given his championship experience.
The picks are the reason the Rockets made this deal, and they could find a solid future spinning piece with the 16th pick on Wednesday. While this draft class isn’t considered the strongest, the 2021 class is expected to be full of talent, which will potentially make this pick extremely valuable, even with its protections.
Still, if the Rockets do go into a full rebuild and trade Harden and Westbrook, why give up Covington so soon? Houston surely could have waited to trade him until the two superstars left and created a bidding war between several vying teams who could have used Covington’s services. Two first-round picks are a good achievement, but the Rockets could have secured a young player for the future from another team as well. Either way, this move indicates that Houston is in the process of selling parts, which means a rebuild may be in sight.