How the move affects the Houston Rockets long-term
The protections on the Blazers 2021 first-round pick are not yet known but it stands to reason that the Blazers will be a playoff team again next season. The Blazers’ biggest issue was their inability to defend the wings and Robert Covington will help bolster that area.
While the Blazers are likely to be a playoff team, barring a massive roster shakeup, they’re unlikely to break into the West’s elite. The Rockets should expect the Blazers pick to come in somewhere between 16 and 22 in the much-hyped 2021 draft.
Getting the Blazers’ 2021 first-round pick is huge because the Rockets’ first-round pick is likely headed to another team. The Rockets will only retain their first-round pick if it lands between one and four, but if not they will receive the least favorable out of their own, the Miami Heat’s, and Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round picks.
Trading Covington for Ariza will also see the Rockets save $12 million on their cap figure for the 2021-22 season. Depending on whether one or both of James Harden and Russell Westbrook are moved, the Rockets could potentially have $30 million in total salary commitments heading into the season.
Even if the Rockets have to move on from their superstar duo, they could be in a prime position to reload and swing back into contention as soon as the 2021-22 season. Armed with cap space and picks, the Houston Rockets will have plenty of options to pursue the NBA’s elite talent through free agency and trades.
Next: Who won the trade?