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How The Rockets Could Turn Clint Capela Into Andre Iguodala Or Robert Covington

There is rarely sports news that breaks during the Super Bowl because it inevitably is buried under talk of the game itself, commercials, and the halftime show. In the middle of the first half on Sunday, however, we had some NBA trade rumor fodder passed along by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, in which he indicated the Rockets were having discussions about trading center Clint Capela.

The Hawks were the first team actually named to have had talks with Houston about Capela, which was not tremendously surprising considering they were linked to talks with the Pistons earlier in the year about a trade for Andre Drummond. While Atlanta seems determined to get Trae Young some added frontcourt help, there are others in the mix for Capela’s services, with Boston emerging on Monday as another suitor.

The end goal, of course, as Woj notes, is to acquire picks to go chase one of the top wing players on the market in Andre Iguodala and Robert Covington.

The question is, what deal with those teams makes the most sense — either by way of a three-team trade or in separate deals. In this space, we’ll look at realistic options and how Capela might be leveraged into the wing player they so desperately crave.

Rockets-Celtics-Timberwolves

Boston Gets: Clint Capela
Houston Gets: Robert Covington and Daniel Theis
Minnesota Gets: Romeo Langford, Vincent Poirer, Houston’s 2020 1st round pick, Milwaukee’s 2020 1st round pick (via Boston)

Covington, because his contract is significantly less than Iguodala’s, is easier to make a three-team deal work with the Celtics. We have a report that Minnesota is seeking two firsts for Covington, which may be due to the report that emerged on Monday that the Warriors want a draft pick heavy package in any D’Angelo Russell deal — connecting dots, it’s fun! So, in this the Wolves get a young wing in Langford that fits their timeline, some frontcourt depth in Poirer, and most importantly a pair of late first round picks that they apparently covet. Maybe they can talk Boston into sending their 1st rather than Milwaukee’s, as the Celtics have three firsts this year (with Memphis’ almost assuredly conveying at this point).

The Celtics get the defensive-minded big man they crave, allowing them to push Enes Kanter to a bench role. They don’t give up any core pieces and expend a bit of their draft capital to upgrade their frontcourt. The Rockets are able to get the wing player they desire in Covington, along with some frontcourt help in Theis to fill the void of Capela to a degree.

Rockets-Hawks-Grizzlies

Atlanta gets: Clint Capela
Houston gets: Andre Iguodala
Memphis gets: Evan Turner, Brooklyn’s 2020 1st round pick (via Atlanta)

Because of the top-heavy contracts on the Hawks, it’s actually easier to make an Iguodala deal happen in a three-teamer with Atlanta. The Hawks get the big man they apparently crave to be a pick-and-roll partner for Trae Young and clean up messes on defense at the rim (of which there are many). Houston gets Iguodala without having to send a first of their own anywhere, and Memphis gets what might be a very good first round pick for Iguodala in the form of the Nets pick from Atlanta, along with Evan Turner’s expiring, as ET is completely out of the rotation in Atlanta.

The holdup to this deal might be the Hawks not wanting to spend a first rounder to make this happen, as they apparently wouldn’t give up a first in the Drummond negotiations. It’s possible they’d be more willing to put one of their young players in a package to Memphis instead.

The question for Houston may simply be whether they want to send Capela out for a half-year rental of Iguodala (which would save them sending their own pick as well) or whether they’d rather bring in Covington who would be on the roster through 2022 at a pretty good price by spending their 2020 pick. Personally, if I were the Rockets, I’d prefer the latter option.

We’ll find out by Thursday afternoon if these are in the ballpark of what any of these teams are looking for, or if there’s another deal out there to be had. Whatever the case, it’s clear that Houston plans on doing something in the coming days, and that brings some excitement to what is expected to be a somewhat quiet deadline.

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