Report: Trail Blazers Trade For Robert Covington

It looks as though Portland’s search for a long-term option at forward has finally come to an end. 

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers are sending Trevor Ariza, their 2020 first-round pick and a protected first-round pick in 2021 to Houston in exchange for Robert Covington, a 6-7 forward entering his eighth season out of Tennessee State. Since the reported trade includes first-round picks in back-to-back drafts, the deal cannot be completed until after Wednesday’s Draft. 

Covington, under contract for the next two seasons, comes to Portland with career averages of 12.7 points on 41 percent shooting from the field, 36 percent shooting from three and 81 percent shooting from the free throw line, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.5 assists and just under a block per game over the course of seven seasons. 

But Covington’s real value comes on the defensive end as he’s a lanky, athletic and intuitive defender who is able to check all five positions, though at this point in his career, he’ll probably spend most of his time at power forward. He gives Terry Stotts all kinds of lineup options, from playing big lineups with Covington at small forward, Zach Collins at power forward and Jusuf Nurkic at center to small ball approaches with Covington at power forward, Rodney Hood or Gary Trent at small forward and Nurkic or Collins at center. Named first-team All-Defense in 2018, Covington gives the Trail Blazers an elite level of defense on the wing that they haven’t had in a decade, perhaps longer. 

This is the kind of win-now move fans, and a few players on the roster, have been clamoring for. While sending out first-round picks is always a gamble, it’s very unlikely you get a player at No. 16 in the upcoming Draft who ever becomes the player Covington is, and even if that were the case, that production would likely be years away. The 2021 pick is reportedly lottery-protected, so unless things go sideways for the Trail Blazers this season, that is likely conveyed next year. And while Ariza was a welcomed edition last season, he’s on the last year of his deal and is five years Covington’s senior. That’s an easy call. 

This move signals that, with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic all in their primes, the time is right to prioritize the present. The Western Conference seems to get tougher every year, and thankfully, with this move, so too have the Trail Blazers.