Trail Blazers finally did it. Neil Olchi swapped the team’s picks in the next first round for a defensive-oriented striker, making it clear that Portland was now intent on winning. Let’s dig and see if Robert Covington deserves a first-round pair.
Robert Covington: Smart, versatile, and tall
Covington is one of those players who always magically appears in the right place at the right time, especially on the defensive side. He reads perfectly against opponents and constantly puts himself in a position to disrupt crime. It is no coincidence that Covington took first place in distractions and thirteenth in defensive loose balls that recovered in 2017-18. He is a damn smart player and that translates into making plays.
Covington also showed excellent defensive prowess. He remarkably went from a Timberwolves Scottie Pippen-esque rover, sneaking around screens and treading the ball away from the incisors, to a solid anchor around the rim for the Rockets. Despite standing “only” 6 feet 7, RoCo averaged 2.2 blocks per game after joining Houston in February.
Covington’s intelligence and versatility is backed by its 7-foot, 2-foot wingspan and ultra-fast hands. Because of his height and range, Covington is capable of playing in any of the front-court positions and has faced offensive players from James Harden to Anthony Davis.
All in all, adding a smart and versatile defense expert to the list relied on Carmelo Anthony who skilfully navigated the cutters for “defense” last season is like stumbling across Crater Lake in the middle of the desert. What about Terry Stots’ penchant for maximizing the use of skilled and cerebral players? Yes, the Rose Garden will be filled with a Covington shirt (once fans are allowed to return).
What can’t he do?
Covington’s attacking profile is similar to his defensive profile, but less effective. He knows how to find the right spot at the right time, which translates to 3-point points when a defense breaks down or a reliable break when a pass to the edge appears. But it lacks distinct offensive moves that will automatically generate points when necessary. Alarmingly, Covington’s 3-point accuracy has also decreased from about 36 percent in its run to about 31 percent in Houston.
In defense, Covington is a solid defender on the ball but very helpful as a defender for the team. The Blazers will welcome any defensive help they can get, so that’s not a deal breaker, but Covington also wouldn’t necessarily be the best defender of the Tony Allen-esque sacking the team needs. This is especially true when the RoCo slides down to 4 or 5 and has to match a larger player.
What did it cost?
Blazers are sending Trevor Ariza, their 2020 First Round Pick, and Protected First Round Pick for 2021 to Rockets for Covington according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Rockets are finalizing a deal to send Robert Covington to Portland for Trevor Ariza and choose the first round of 2020 and the selection of the first protected round for 2021, ESPN sources report.
– Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 17, 2020
Olshey also used second-round picks to acquire Trevor Ariza, so Covington’s final bill is four draft picks, if you believe in the transitive property of NBA Deals.
Four picks, including the first rounds in a row, appear to be too steep for a role player, but given that the Bucks just gave up three picks and two swaps on Jrue Holiday, it’s often hard to file a complaint. Omar Covington (29) and contract status (signed during next season, full bird rights) play for the team.
Covington and Ariza’s salaries are nearly identical at $ 12.1 million and $ 12.8 million respectively, so there is little direct impact on Blazers’ net earnings. Covington is on contract for next season for $ 13 million.
When will this trade officially take place?
Sean Heiken reported on Twitter that Ariza’s contract will not be fully guaranteed until November 20:
Blazers and Rockets must wait until then to officially announce the deal, for salary matching purposes.
Do the blazers have more money to spend?
The Blazers still have a full mid-level waiver ($ 9.3 million), a biannual waiver ($ 3.6 million), and a Trader Player ($ 7.1 million) exception for acquiring additional players. They also have full bird rights for Good Whiteside.
Their current salary commitment is roughly $ 113.3 million, assuming Hood and Winin Gabriel are kept, roughly $ 25.6 million less than the tax yard / tax cap. They have four open menu places.
What does this mean for missiles?
Lol it’s not great!
“Covington to the Blazers” may be equivalent to “Nic Batum to the Hornets” in terms of predicting the ultimate fate of Houston superstar James Harden.
Overall, Covington isn’t the panacea that will solve all of the Blazers’ woes on the ward – really, could anyone other than Giannis do that? But he would provide solid defense and would be able to slide well with any combination of Rodney Hood, Zach Collins or Joseph Norwich. This fits well.
In the big picture, this is the first time Olshey has sacrificed a first round at a bargain now since the acquisition of Arron Afflalo in February 2015. Blazers have used to work around the edges to bring in cheap veterans, which range in quality from Pau Hood Gasol to Rodney, But we were hesitant to pull the trigger on any move that would require significant future investments. That day has changed and hopefully is a prelude to additional moves to come later this week to support the bench.