With the NBA trade deadline just two days away, the Houston Rockets will be in the midst of the madness come Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. On Sunday, in the middle of Super Bowl LIV, the Rockets received a jump start to the craziness when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Houston was interested in trading Clint Capela ahead of the deadline.
Several Eastern Conference teams have expressed interest in the big man from Switzerland, including the Boston Celtics — who have yearned for a high caliber starting center since the departure of Al Horford this summer.
In return, the Rockets are anticipating to land a first-round pick in hopes of flipping it into a deal for a wing or another high-profile center. Houston’s determination to acquire a draft pick to flip for a wing in exchange for Capela has rekindled a trade rumor — a report Kelly Iko of The Athletic believed the team was not a bidder just two weeks ago.
But now, according to the New York Times’ Mark Stein, the Rockets (along with the 76ers) are at the front of the line to acquire Robert Covington from the Timberwolves. While actively sitting on the trading block, Minnesota is seeking some sort of draft compensation in a deal for Covington.
Ambitious as it sounds, Minnesota has sought two first-round picks in exchange for Robert Covington in advance of Thursday's trade deadline, league sources say. Let's see where the Wolves land if/when they actually deal him, with Philly and Houston at the front of the RoCo line— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 3, 2020
Due to their recent success over the past week, the addition of Covington is the ideal fit for the Rockets and their new profound commitment to small-ball. Standing at 6’9, Covington is one of the most well-rounded 3-and-D players in the league and could fill the void as the Rockets’ stretch four.
On the offensive end, Covington can have an impact on the Rockets’ offense even without scoring the ball at a high consistent rate. As a career 35.0% shooter from the outside, the addition of Covington will free up more floor spacing and allow more opportunities for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to penetrate down the lane.
However, his greatest attribute to the team will come on the defensive end, as Covington can improve Houston’s perimeter struggles due to his ability to defend the likes of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic.
Ahead of practice on Monday, Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni expressed his admiration for small ball and what ways the lineup can approve.
“What was the best lineup over the past five years? Golden State with Draymond Green at the center. Right now, we have a unique team that can go small and we will continue to get better at it, especially on the defensive end. It’s a different kind of lineup, but if we can box out and watch the second-chance points, it can help us moving forward.” — D’Antoni
In the next 24-48 hours, the Rockets are hoping to put an end to their endless pursuit for Covington, a deal Houston has had “serious interest” in completing according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer in a report in December.
The Athletic’s Iko confirmed yesterday that the Rockets were indeed back in the mix.
An affordable veteran player set to make a little over $25 million over the next two seasons, Covington has averaged 12.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks across in 47 games for the Wolves this season.