Reports surfacing regarding Minnesota’s reported pursuit of D’Angelo Russell morphed into something much more complicated late Tuesday night, and on Wednesday, the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets agreed to a multiplayer trade involving Clint Capela and Robert Covington as the main pieces in the transaction.
In the trade, the Rockets get Covington and Jordan Bell from the Wolves and the Hawks' 2024 second-round pick. The Hawks get Capela and Nene from the Rockets (Atlanta then waived Nene a day later). The Nuggets get the Wolves' Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, the Rockets' Gerald Green (who was later waived) and Houston's first-round pick in 2020. The Wolves get the Nuggets' Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt as well as the Hawks' Evan Turner and the Hawks' 2020 first-round pick via the Brooklyn Nets.
Wojnarowski reported Wednesday morning that the Hawks are waiving forward Chandler Parsons and his expiring $25.1 million contract to create the roster space needed to help complete this massive trade. The Hawks requested waivers on Parsons on Wednesday night.
Atlanta is waiving Chandler Parsons and his expiring $25.1M contract to create roster space to complete four-team trade, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2020
On Wednesday, videos of Covington arriving in Houston began to make the rounds on social media. He briefly spoke with reporters at the airport about what the looming trade to Houston means to him.
“It’s another great opportunity for me to be here,” Covington said after landing in Houston, per the Houston Chronicle. “I have family, friends here, being with an organization that is right there. It’s a big opportunity for me. Just come in and do what I’ve been doing. They just said I bring value, bring so much to the table. I’m just going to bring that same energy every day here.”
Robert Covington (@Holla_At_Rob33) says it means a great deal that he brings a skill set the #Rockets need after being waived by Houston in 2014: “Coming from a player that wasn’t established at first to be a person that people truly sought out, it’s a very good feeling.” pic.twitter.com/WVKD6fAGnF— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 5, 2020
The Houston Chronicle also reports the trade is unlikely to be finalized until Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline and could take days to be official. The trade can also still be expanded, with the Rockets potentially pursuing additional trades that can be made a part of this four-team mega-trade.
For a second, though, forget all the names and Draft picks and focus on Capela and Covington, the Rockets and the Timberwolves.
The Rockets receive the “3-and-D” wing it coveted, while the Hawks land a young, athletic, rim-running big to play with All-Star guard Trae Young. Now Atlanta owns the luxury of playing either John Collins or Capela with Young at all times to execute the pick-and-roll.
After producing three straight seasons with improving numbers in nearly every category, Capela has regressed slightly on the offensive side this season (13.9 ppg). Still, he has pulled down at least 20 rebounds eight times this season, while increasing his rebounding average to a career-best 13.8 rpg. Capela’s strong roll game should provide Young and Atlanta with a dangerous pick-and-roll threat to complement Collins up front. The fact that Capela is one of the NBA’s fastest bigs should turn out to be yet another advantage for the Hawks in matchups as Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Utah’s Rudy Gobert have learned in recent years.
Capela, 25, had been Houston’s most valuable trade asset with a salary of $14.9 million this season and salaries of $16 million, $17.1 million and $18.2 million over the next three seasons as part of the five-year, $90 million extension signed in July of 2018.
The Rockets reportedly aren’t done, either, as they’re planning to continue beating the bushes for a center through a trade or in the buyout market to match up in the Western Conference playoffs against All-Stars such as Jokic, Gobert and the Lakers' Anthony Davis. Houston isn’t looking for a starter at the position, according to multiple reports. The plan now is to continue playing small ball with P.J. Tucker operating at center, while finding a center the Rockets can use in matchup situations against more traditional bigs down the road and in the playoffs.
Tucker scored 13 points to go with 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s 125-110 Rockets win over the Charlotte Hornets, marking the veteran’s sixth double-double of the season. In that game, he also snapped a 21-game streak of scoring less than 10 points. Houston owns a record of 27-10 dating back to last season when Tucker scores in double figures.
The win against Charlotte gave Houston its 15th in a row at the Toyota Center, and the Rockets have won six of their last eight after losing a season-high four in a row before that from Jan. 15 to Jan. 20.
Covington, meanwhile, is now fully healthy after working through a knee issue last season and is regarded as one of the league's prototypical "3-and-D" wings, capable of playing strong multi-positional defense, while knocking down 3s at a solid rate (35.8% career). With Houston leaning primarily on small-ball lineups -- including recently playing a game without a player taller than 6-foot-6 -- the 29-year-old Covington adds an in-his-prime swingman to help further open the Rockets’ high-octane offense without sacrificing on D.
Covington is averaging 12.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg this season while also this season while knocking down 2.3 3-pointers per game at a 34.6% clip.
Furthermore, Covington was a strong locker room presence in Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how he fits in with Houston's dynamic personalities, a group led by All-Stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Beasley headlines the package going to Minnesota along with Turner, while Denver receives several depth pieces, such as Green, who is out for the season due to a broken foot, and a 2020 first-round pick. Beasley has struggled with his shot this season (39.2 FG%; 36.4 3P%) after a breakout 2018-19 campaign averaging 11.3 ppg off the bench for the Nuggets.
According to The Denver Post, Beasley and Hernangomez had approached Nuggets management recently about a trade, as they sought expanded roles and more minutes in a situation only complicated by the emergence of rookie Michael Porter Jr. This move helped to solidify roles within the roster, and reportedly helped the Nuggets to avoid spending in restricted free agency on Beasley or Hernangomez.
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