NBA Rumor: Robert Covington Trade?

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Bucks eyeing Robert Covington, PJ Tucker?

Multiple league sources say the Bucks are active in trade discussions; they’re looking to move on from Eric Bledsoe, and have offered him to several teams. They’re also in pursuit of Rockets forwards Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker; Houston doesn’t have a pick in this draft and is moving toward a retooling period with Russell Westbrook wanting out. If the Bucks stay here, or even if the pick is traded, it’s hard to see Anthony dropping any further. He was a top high-school recruit and a projected lottery pick heading into the season. He had a disastrous freshman season at North Carolina, but his shot-creation skills could ultimately add a lot to any offense he’s part of.

Clippers interested in Thompson, Love and Dedmon

The Clippers have been aggressive, no surprise considering they have the $11.5 million Mo Harkless contract and a first round pick to deal. Considering if LA doesn’t trade the pick it can’t deal another one until we colonize Mars, there is some urgency in the LA front office to get a deal done. The Clippers have kicked the tires on Kevin Love and could grab disgruntled Kings center Dewayne Dedmon, but neither are preferred options. There is some interest in Tristan Thompson in LA’s front office, per sources, as LA’s coaching staff has fretted about the team’s rebounding, particularly when Ivica Zubac is off the floor. Wing depth is a consideration for the Clippers, with Robert Covington and Iguodala among the possibilities discussed.

The Athletic: Does that cut both ways, I wonder? Like if the front office makes a move that wasn’t on your radar and then in hindsight you’re looking at it saying, ‘I’m not sure I like that…’ Karl-Anthony Towns: I think it would hurt the star player or player (that’s) highly regarded in the organization if they didn’t feel confidence in the front office. I do. I feel very confident in Gerss and (coach) Ryan (Saunders) and all of them. So like I said, whatever they do, I’m going to support because I know they’re trying to make the right decisions for us to win.

The Star-Tribune: So you’d understand it, even if it would be tough to take? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean, you’ve been through my journey. You’ve seen how much change I went through. Obviously there’s a lot of decisions (where), obviously, as a person — person to person — you obviously don’t like, and as a player you may not like, but it’s something you’ve got to live with. And that comes with just having trust in those guys, so I’m not going to say either — anything. Like I said, I don’t get paid to make those decisions. Those are tough decisions, but here’s to hoping that I see Cov on Friday I guess. … Look man, he’s a great guy, a great dude. He’s a great player. He’s helped me tremendously and he’s continuing to help me every day. He just gives me such comfort out there.

The Star-Tribune: How much would you want Cov to stay here, because he’s been a focus of all this? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean I think it’s very, very, very — for you, especially (he says to beat reporter Chris Hine) — I think it’s very obvious (that) he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen. Um, you know, but like with Zach LaVine (who was traded from Minnesota to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017) , you know this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have Gerss and them, so…

Would Towns still be happy if Covington was one of the players the front office felt like it had to deal? “I think it’s very obvious he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen,” Towns said. “But like with Zach LaVine, this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have [Rosas] and them.”

Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Denver are interested in Covington, sources say. Dallas and Denver have minimal interest, which puts Houston and Philadelphia in pole position for one of the league’s most reputable 3-and-D wings. Covington isn’t moving as nimbly on defense as he has in past seasons following knee surgery last April, but he’s still a solid, reliable defender who could help a playoff team and shoot at an above-average clip from 3, which explains Houston’s interest.

Minnesota has been engaged in talks regarding Covington, whose suitors include Dallas, Houston and Milwaukee, according to sources. The Mavericks and Rockets discussed potential deals for Covington in the offseason, with the Mavericks having their 2020 Golden State second-rounder and the Rockets dangling future first-round compensation. Still, some executives have worries about Covington’s remaining two years and $25 million deal and injury concerns.

The Sixers have been linked to a resurgent Derrick Rose, their former forward Covington and sharpshooter Davis Bertans. But the asking price, particularly for Covington, one source said, has been too steep. As in: Matisse Thybulle, plus a first-rounder — a hang-up worthy offer. In negotiations, both sides typically get more desperate as the deadline nears. Maybe the asking price for a guy like Rose or Covington lowers to a more appealing level or the Sixers decide something like a future first-rounder is worth it.

The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make. But the Warriors aren’t in a panic about Russell. Unless the Wolves unload the vault — something like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie plus a basket of appealing, unprotected picks — it’s wiser for the Warriors to wait until past this deadline on Russell and perhaps well beyond.

The Mavericks are continuously cited by league sources as a potential landing spot for Grizzlies wing Andre Iguodala, who could help them this season as a secondary ball handler without compromising their future cap space. The Mavs have also made offers to the Timberwolves for Robert Covington, but those have been declined, according to multiple league sources. Covington won’t make many plays off the dribble, but he’d be an upgrade over Dorian Finney-Smith as a 3-and-D wing. It remains to be seen whether Dallas has the ammo to complete a trade, but it’s clear that the team is looking to bolster its postseason odds.

A rapidly escalating arms race for this star role player is pitting the league’s elite against each other. As much as the Minnesota Timberwolves want to keep him, they’re a longshot to make the playoffs, and this might be the time to maximize their return on Covington. He has no shortage of suitors. The Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Rockets and 76ers are among the teams that have expressed some Covington interest, according to people familiar with the matter. Before they can battle for a championship, they have to bid against each other.

Covington’s tardiness prompted a short benching at the start of the game. Saunders insisted that he didn’t believe that the timing of Covington’s mistake was anything more than a coincidence. But the losses are piling up and his name is starting to surface in trade rumors. Covington said he took ownership of his tardiness and agreed with Saunders’ decision to pull him from the starting lineup. Then he went 5 for 17 from the field and 3 for 11 from 3-point range.

Rockets targeting Robert Covington

The Houston Rockets have serious interest in Covington, league sources say. The Rockets are in the market for wings; with James Harden having another MVP-caliber season, they’re a team that should go all in no matter who the target is. They have the ammo to do so: Despite the pile of picks it sent Oklahoma City in the Chris Paul–for–Russell Westbrook blockbuster, Houston can still dangle its first-round picks in 2020 and 2022.
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