Rockets Acquire Robert Covington, Trade Clint Capela to Hawks
The Rockets acquired forward Robert Covington from the Timberwolves in a four-team trade on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Minnesota forward Jordan Bell is also reportedly coming to Houston in the deal, as well as a second round pick, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Houston will reportedly send centers Clint Capela and Nene to the Hawks in the trade. Gerald Green and the Rockets' 2020 first-round pick will go to Denver, per Wojnarowski. Green waived his right to veto in the deal as he recovers from a broken foot.
Covington is in his seventh season out of Tennessee State. The 6'9" forward is averaging 12.8 points per game this year while shooting 34.6% from three. Covington is expected to enter Houston's starting lineup as an impact 3-and-D wing, earning a spot on the All-Defense Team in 2017-18.
Houston could also deploy Covington at the four in its small-ball lineups. Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni has consistently downsized with Capela out of the lineup, starting 6'6" forward P.J. Tucker at center in each of the last three games. Houston is 3–0 in those contests. Russell Westbrook has thrived in the non-center lineups, benefitting from the lack of a center near the basket. Westbrook is averaging 31.4 points and eight assists per game since Dec. 31.
It's unclear how sustainable Houston's small-ball strategy truly is, especially in potential postseason matchups against the Lakers, Nuggets and Jazz. Bell played center in limited minutes with the Warriors in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but he's been largely out of the Timberwolves' rotation this season. The Rockets could still hunt for a center either before the Feb. 6 trade deadline or in the buyout market.
Capela played the first six seasons of his career with the Rockets. The 25-year-old has seen a dip in points and field goal percentage this year, but he ranks No. 4 in the NBA in rebounds per game. Capela has missed three straight games due to a right heel contusion, and he may be out until the All-Star break.
Covington could join the Rockets for their two-game road trip, beginning at the Lakers on Thursday. Houston advanced to 32–18 in 2019-20 with Tuesday's win over the Hornets.