The winner of the Rockets’ trade is….
There is no clear cut winner in this trade because both teams got exactly what they wanted. The Blazers got a defensive stalwart who is in his prime, that will help in traditional and small-ball lineups in Robert Covington and the Rockets got the future assets and financial flexibility that they’ve lacked for years.
The Rockets, if they draft well, will think they won this trade by a landslide. Covington is a solid player but at 29-years-old he is what he is, which is a versatile defender with a shaky jump shot. Two first-round picks and a solid veteran in Trevor Ariza, who can be flipped for more assets, is not a bad return at all.
If the Rockets play their cards right they could be primed to make major moves in the summer of 2021, when the draft and free-agent class is supposed to be legendary. James Harden was plucked from the OKC Thunder for a pittance and it was all because the Rockets had assets and used them.
While this trade signals a down 2020-21 for the Rockets, it indicates that they are priming to get back to contention sooner rather than later. Bottoming out in the NBA has become the in-vogue team-building strategy, but as history has shown, all it takes is a little cap space, a few picks, and a little creativity to get right back into contention.