The Warriors pulled out of trade talks with the Rockets, Timberwolves and Hawks. So, Houston, Minnesota and Atlanta are completing a four-team trade with the Nuggets instead.
The terms, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Shams Charania of The Athletic:
- Give: Evan Turner, 2020 Nets first-round pick (lottery protected)
- Get: Clint Capela, Nene
- Give: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt
- Get: Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop, Gerald Green, 2020 Rockets first-round pick
How it looks, via TradeNBA:
Robert Covington should fit excellently in Houston. He’s an elite team defender who’ll provide a major upgrade at forward. His spot-up 3-point shooting will complement James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and those stars will minimize Covington having to go outside his comfort zone as a playmaker. Covington is also relatively cheap (more on that later) and locked in two more seasons after this.
Jordan Bell should also fit well with the Rockets, who lost their starting center in this deal. As a finisher at the rim and mobile defender, Bell can replicate some of what Clint Capela provided. However, at 6-foot-8, Bell is small for the position.
Houston can also use P.J. Tucker, Isaiah Hartenstein and Tyson Chandler at center. Expect the Rockets to target someone capable of matching up with traditionally sized centers. Houston could make another trade or comb the buyout market.
Despite their earlier proclamations, the Rockets got under the luxury-tax line with this trade. The tax won’t be assessed until the final day of the regular season, so don’t write anything in pen just yet. But ducking the tax definitely appears to be a key aspect of this trade.
Nene (contract rendered a burden by NBA) and Gerald Green (season-ending injury) hold negative value. Unloading their salaries was part of the Rockets’ motivation to make this deal. As someone on a one-year contract who would’ve had Bird Rights afterward, Green could have blocked the trade. But the Houston native seems to be on good terms with the Rockets. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs with them next summer.
So, yes, Houston upgrades on the floor with Covington and Bell. But Capela and a first-round pick surely would’ve yielded even better return if those assets weren’t partially used to dump Nene and Green.
In Capela, the Hawks get a good center who’s relatively young (25) and cost-controlled (due $51,310,344 over the next three seasons). The price – Brooklyn’s lottery-protected first-round pick and eating Nene’s contract – was relatively low. (Evan Turner’s expiring contract was a neutral-value conduit).
But I’m not sure why Atlanta made the trade now. The Hawks’ season is a lost cause. They had the cap space to pursue centers in free agency or trade next summer. They might also be positioned to draft James Wiseman, who already turned pro out of Memphis. They could have waited until the offseason, when they’ll have a clear picture of center possibilities.
Maybe Atlanta just likes Capela that much. Maybe another quality player will ease Trae Young‘s frustration.
This also raises questions about John Collins‘ future with the Hawks. Maybe they’ll keep him at power forward, but his rim running overlaps with Capela’s skill set. It’s not a clean fit.
The Timberwolves get a few solid, though no great, assets. Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are heading toward restricted free agency this summer. Minnesota will get a chance to test both then leverage their matching rights in the offseason. (For perspective, Beasley reportedly rejected a three-year, $30 million contract extension.) Beasley and Hernangomez both showed promise in Denver, but neither got quite enough opportunity on a deep Nuggets team. That should change on the Timberwolves, who are desperate for outside shooters.
Denver loses a rotation player in Beasley without necessarily adding one – at least when everyone is healthy. Noah Vonleh can play center behind Nikola Jokic with Mason Plumlee sidelined. Shabazz Napier is also capable, but the Nuggets already have Jamal Murray and underrated Monte Morris at point guard. Perhaps, Denver will use more two-point guard lineups. Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 pick in 2018 draft) looks more NBA-ready than Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41 pick in 2018 draft), but neither has shown much.
The Nuggets get value for two players – Beasley and Hernangomez – who might have been too expensive to re-sign this summer. At least for a team resistant to paying the luxury tax.
But Denver is good enough to prioritize winning this season, and this trade was a step back. I wouldn’t assume the Nuggets are finished. That Houston first-rounder could be ammo in another deal before Thursday’s trade deadline.