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Why the Rockets didn’t give up too much for Robert Covington

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is guarded by Minnesota Timberwolves Forward Robert Covington (33) during a NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is guarded by Minnesota Timberwolves Forward Robert Covington (33) during a NBA game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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With the Houston Rockets finally landing their well-known target in Robert Covington, did they give up too much to get him?

Hours after the Houston Rockets defeated the Charlotte Hornets, they pulled off a trade that had been speculated for several months, as they landed Robert Covington, who was the 3-and-D wing they had been targeting. The Rockets ultimately traded reserve Gerald Green, Nene, Clint Capela and a first-round draft pick, and instantly drew criticism for giving up too much.

The Rockets have had a dropoff in 3-point shooting year-over-year and have struggled on the defensive end, as they’ve not shown any signs of the top-ten defense they had during the 2018-19 season. This is why it made sense for the Rockets to go all in for Covington, who has been named All-Defense before and is a career 35.8 percent shooter from deep.

As to the question of whether they gave up too much, let’s examine that further. On paper, it seems like they did considering the fact that they gave up three total players and a draft pick, but we can’t assess the trade on paper, because it creates a flawed analysis of who won the trade.

Sure, we can focus on the fact that there were three total players who were moved, but let’s not forget about the fact that two of the players the Rockets traded won’t even play this season, as Nene hasn’t been healthy and will simply be waived, since his contract is non-guaranteed. On top of that, Rockets fan favorite Gerald Green is going to miss the entire season due to a broken foot he suffered during the preseason.

In fact, after the trade was completed, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that Green will likely be waived, as he continues to rehab from his injury, and could possibly join the Rockets again in the offseason. From this standpoint the Rockets weren’t fleeced, as they gave away two players who aren’t even healthy and won’t log a single minute this season.

Although it seems like the Rockets gave up the best piece in Capela, the reality is they didn’t value him, and they didn’t have a need for Capela considering coach Mike D’Antoni’s preference for the small ball lineup. On top of that, the Rockets made it known that they were seeking to trade Capela ever since the summer, which is a cardinal sin as it pertains to trades.

More often than not, when you shop a player for an extended amount of time, he loses value the longer he goes without being traded, which was the case with Capela. On top of that, the more you make it publicly known that you have your sights set on a player, which the Rockets did with Covington, the more it drives up the asking price.

When you factor this into the equation, it makes sense why the Rockets gave up a first round draft pick. Granted, losing a first round pick does sting, but it’s far worth it considering what all the Houston Rockets were able to accomplish in the deal. They were able to shed salary cap by getting other teams to take on Nene and Gerald Green’s contract, so that’s also likely why they were willing to attach a draft pick. We’ve heard recently how Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is trying to get under the cap to avoid paying the luxury tax, as per Jabari Young of CNBC.

So if the Rockets landed the player they have long been targeting, and they were able to shed salary in the process by getting rid of two injured players who won’t be able to contribute, why wouldn’t they have to give up a first round pick? The Rockets lost their leverage not only because of how long they’ve made Capela available, but also because they’ve long coveted Covington. Not only that, they’ve lowered Capela’s value by going with the small ball lineup so frequently, as teams realized they didn’t have a need for him and didn’t want him, so they were going to have to give up more.

Many people are frustrated by the fact that the Houston Rockets lost their center and sacrificed size to get Covington, but it’s not like they’re done dealing. We’ve heard that they will still be seeking another center, and they’ve got a long list of big men they can still target. What’s also not been discussed enough is the fact that they landed a big man in Jordan Bell, and also yielded a draft pick in return, which are both assets they could also flip if they so choose to.

Next. Eight 3-and-D players the Rockets can land

At the end of the day, it may seem like Morey got fleeced, but when you consider the fact that the Houston Rockets gave up two players who won’t even play this season, shed enough salary to get under the tax, and created a roster spot to still add another big, it should tell a much different story. Not to mention the fact that they added an elite 3-and-D wing they’ve wanted and needed desperately in Covington, who is under contract through the 2021-22 season.

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