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Report: Rockets are sending Robert Covington to Blazers for Trevor Ariza, picks

Are the Rockets making moves to prepare for a James Harden or Russell Westbrook trade? Or just recouping some assets for Covington? We take a look.

Robert Covington of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 8, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are trading F Robert Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for SF Trevor Ariza, a 2020 first-round pick and a protected 2021 first-round pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Monday night. This comes hours after reports surfaced that the Rockets wanted to keep All-Star James Harden despite The Beard wanting out to Brooklyn.

The Rockets had acquired Covington in a mid-season trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Covington was great for Houston during the regular season and again in the NBA bubble during the restart. It’s unclear if this is a play by the Rockets to make Harden a little more happy. Clearly, Harden and Ariza have a good relationship. They played together on the Rockets from 2014-18 and Ariza was one of the key parts of the team that almost knocked off the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2018.

The flip side of this move is that the Rockets are pawning off assets to pick up draft picks and prepare for a full blown rebuild. Houston basically traded away all their future first-round picks to the Thunder and Clippers for Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Getting two future first-rounders back helps the Rockets bring in some assets necessary for a rebuild. Might Eric Gordon be next before the team decides to part ways with Westbrook and/or Harden?

Oh yeah, and let’s not ignore the fact that this deal is AMAZING for Portland. The Trail Blazers got by with Carmelo Anthony last season. Nothing against Melo, he was actually really great for the Blazers. He isn’t Robert Covington though, one of the premier 3-and-D players in the NBA. The Blazers were one of the worst teams in terms of defensive efficiency last season and this is a big boost adding an elite wing defender.

Covington is signed through 2022 at a very team-friendly $12 million per season. He’s only 29 years old and arguably in the prime of his career. A starting five featuring Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Carmelo Anthony and Jusuf Nurkic would be very interesting in the already nutty Western Conference. We just saw the Suns add Chris Paul this afternoon to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. As Fall Out Boy once said “This ain’t a scene, it’s an arms race!”

The Blazers are currently +5000 to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook. I’m not saying they are a good bet to win it all but shit, the way the West is setting up it could be wide open. The Lakers got better. The Suns got better. The Blazers just got better. Who’s next? The Clippers, it’s your move! Where you at Mark Cuban?