The top-caliber of NBA free agents have all agreed to deals, with the exception of Kawhi Leonard. The Houston Rockets have retained their core, and will now likely seek to add players who are bought out or add players via trade. One option the Rockets should consider is Robert Covington. Here’s why.
The Houston Rockets have made it known that they are interested in Andre Iguodala, who the Memphis Grizzlies are now apparently wanting to trade as opposed to buying out. Iguodala will certainly have several options and it’s no guarantee the Rockets will land the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
If the Rockets don’t land Iguodala, there is a familiar name who they should consider: Robert Covington. Yes, the same Robert Covington who joined the Rockets via the Summer League in 2013, eventually earning a spot on the Rio Grande Vipers prior to being waived by the Rockets.
Covington ended up going to Philadelphia for the next 4 seasons until he became a casualty in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, as he was traded to Minnesota for Butler. The Timberwolves have recently made it known that they are willing to move Covington and the 36 million he is owed over the next 3 years.
While playing for the Timberwolves this past season, Covington was en route to a career year, averaging 14.5 points per game on 37% shooting from three while averaging 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per night in the 22 games he played in. Based on those numbers, Covington would have led the league in steals per game.
Although 22 games may seem like a small sample size, we know that Covington is an elite defender, as he was just named First Team All-Defense just 2 seasons ago. The concern with Covington is that he missed 45 games due to injury and is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery. Even though he’s apparently been cleared to play again, there’s never a guarantee of a player returning to form, especially as it pertains to knee injuries.
As mentioned earlier, Covington’s contract has 3 years and 36 million remaining, so a buyout is certainly off the table. This would mean a trade would be the only route to adding Covington, which likely would include Iman Shumpert via sign-and-trade, as the Rockets hold Shumpert’s bird’s rights. This would likely be the same route the Rockets would need to go to add Iguodala.
To be clear, if my options were between Iguodala and Covington, I would much rather Iguodala. However, if for some reason the Rockets aren’t able to land Iguodala, Covington would actually not be a bad fall back option, as he would provide depth to the forward spot and be one of the best two-way forwards in the league. At 6’9, Covington is a career 36% 3-point shooter and could play either forward position.
We’ll have to see how it all shakes out, but adding Covington wouldn’t be a bad move especially if the Houston Rockets are unable to land Iguodala.