Wasting no time prepping for life after James Harden, the Houston Rockets, agreed to a trade shipping out Robert Covington to the Portland Trailblazers. In light of the Russell Westbrook trade from last summer, the Rockets found a way to retain some draft assets.
In an effort to acquire a defensive weapon, Portland sends out two future first-round picks to Houston. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Covington’s trade haul consists of returning Trevor Ariza (expiring contract), a 2020 first-round pick, and a protected 2021 first-round pick.
This deal is a rare case of win-win for both franchises. As the Blazers desperately yearned for defensive skills and the Rockets on the brink of a rebuild, this trade seamlessly fit the bill for both front offices. The protection parameters of the 2021 draft pick has yet to surface. Nonetheless, Houston’s diligence of attaining any picks goes a long way in light of its situation. Considering the Rockets don’t own the rights to a draft pick until 2022, the franchise’s execution in acquiring two future firsts somewhat bridges the assets gap.
Not long after Daryl Morey’s resignation and soon thereafter move to Philadelphia, Houston’s new GM Rafael Stone wasted no time with an attempt to stop the bleeding from the Westbrook trade. No matter what happens with James Harden, the Rockets have a contingency plan moving forward with the two picks.
On the other side of the trade, Portland nudges the championship window a little more open with a legitimate three-and-D option in Covington. The Blazers cap situation does not allow much room for any drastic free agent signings this offseason, rendering Covington’s acquisition as a no-brainer. Portland’s use for draft picks obviously last on the list for team-building at this state of its competitive timeline.
With the NBA Draft Wednesday, November 17, the Rockets don’t have much time to decide what is to come up of the newly acquired 2020 pick.