Covington to Rockets, Capela to Hawks in 4-team trade

Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, right, checks the scoreboard in the final seconds of overtime against the Sacramento Kings as Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, left, and Timberwolves center Naz Reid, center look on during an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Kings won 133-129 in overtime. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

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Robert Covington is going to the Houston Rockets and Clint Capela is headed to the Atlanta Hawks as the headline moves in a complicated four-team trade that was approved by the NBA late Wednesday night.

All told, it included 12 players and three draft picks.

The Rockets got Covington and Jordan Bell from Minnesota, plus Golden State’s 2024 second-round pick from the Hawks. Atlanta got two centers, Capela and Nenê from Houston.

Denver got Gerald Green from Houston along with the Rockets’ 2020 first-round pick. The Nuggets also landed Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh from Minnesota.

Minnesota got Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick and Evan Turner from Atlanta, plus Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Juancho Hernangomez from Denver.

Covington told Houston television station KRIV Fox 26 upon his arrival at the airport Wednesday that he was looking forward to a new opportunity.

“It’s all over the place right now,” Covington said when asked about his emotions. “Just kind of getting adjusted to life changing — drastically — in such a short amount of time.”

To make everything work, Atlanta cleared a roster spot by waiving Chandler Parsons.

Parsons is in the final year of his contract, is making just over $25 million this season and has been away from the team while dealing with injuries suffered in a car crash that attorneys believe has threatened his ability to play at all going forward.

The biggest takeaway from the deal would seem to be that this commits Houston to keeping the small-ball lineup that it has employed with much success of late. Capela was the only center the Rockets have consistently played this season — and they’re 10-1 in games without him. Houston could still look to acquire another big man for depth through another trade or potentially after a buyout, and this trade gives the Rockets some financial flexibility to do so.

Covington started his career in Houston and has become one of the NBA’s top defenders, and it’s hard to envision him being anything but a strong complement alongside Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Denver — currently No. 3 in the Western Conference — gets some flexibility as well, in part because it now won’t have to decide this summer what to do with Beasley and Hernangomez, both of whom could become restricted free agents. The Nuggets also picked up a first-round pick for this year in the deal and that could become a chip in any other trades Denver tries to execute before the deadline.

Capela is under contract for three more seasons and joins Atlanta’s young core of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins. The Hawks will have cap space to use this summer, will likely have a top-five pick in this year’s draft and now have two well-regarded bigs alongside the backcourt of Young and Huerter.

“We feel we hit it right with our young core,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Kevin’s a really good player and Trae’s a really good player. … So, part of the move in adding a guy like Clint Capela is you’re surrounding the young core with veteran talent and we’re still going to grow and develop our young core. That’s what’s most important.”

Hernangomez and Beasley each played heavy minutes during a 127-99 win over Portland on Tuesday in what turned out to be their last time wearing a Nuggets uniform. After the final horn, they casually chatted with teammates in the locker room before leaving.

Soon after the trade details began to emerge, Hernangomez and Beasley reappeared to hug teammates.

Beasley had a stunned looked on his face as he walked along the hallway. He briefly popped into the media room to issue a friendly proclamation.

“Next time I see (the Nuggets) I’m gonna drop 50,” he teased.

In Beasley, Hernangomez, Turner and Vanderbilt, the Wolves are receiving four players on expiring contracts, allowing them ample flexibility for further maneuvering either before the deadline on Thursday or in July once the market reopens. They tried last summer to acquire guard D’Angelo Russell, another close friend of Towns, but he went to Golden State instead. And there were more talks involving Russell to complete this deal, but he remained with the Warriors and Denver became the fourth team involved in this complex mix.

The Wolves hosted the Hawks on Wednesday night, coincidentally, with both teams fielding short-handed lineups while the trade was still pending. Minnesota backup center Gorgui Dieng described to reporters before the game his bewildered reaction as the trade news came out Tuesday night, with teammate after teammate sending text messages to confirm they’d been dealt.

“It’s crazy. You feel, ‘How can this guy be gone?’ But it might be you the next four hours,” Dieng said. “You cannot be here having feelings. You’ve just got to move on and focus on what’s next.”

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AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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