Rockets 130, Magic 107: Mundane Magnificence

Okay ladies and gentleman, first things first. The best player on the Orlando Magic might be Evan Fournier. His nickname, rightfully so, is “Never Google.” Please do not google his name. He scored a bunch of points during this game, and there might even be highlights. Imagine that it’s 1995, wait for Sportscenter, call your cousin in Tampa, whatever. But, Dear Reader, please leave his name thoroughly un-googled.

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The early trade winds

The Ringer reported yesterday that the Houston Rockets have “serious interest” in Robert Covington, and are dangling future assets in hopes of a trade. The news isn’t too surprising given that Covington came up through Houston’s system (only to flourish in Philadelphia); is on an outrageously team friendly contract which will pay him a base salary of $11.3 million this season, and between $12 million and $13 million in each of the next two seasons; and fits Houston’s team needs to a tee.

The 6’7 forward is shooting 37% on 3’s this season and shot 39% on 3’s with Philadelphia in 2018-2019 before being traded to the Wolves in the blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade. I’ve had my eye on Covington for some time now for one simple reason: he’s a DRPM God.

Injuries have slowed him down as he only played in 35 games in 2018-2019 but the Rockets likely hope they can slot him behind P.J Tucker at power forward and then keep him there when sliding Tucker over to the ‘5’ to close out games. That would allow them to maintain their defense without sacrificing shooting and spacing.

There’s only one problem. The Rockets don’t have the salaries to piece together such a deal, unless cobbling together a multi-team trade as Ben Dubose explained yesterday. Among salaries in the range of Covington’s $11.3 million, the Rockets have only P.J Tucker ($8.3 million), Clint Capela ($14.9 million), and Eric Gordon (unable to be traded). Tucker and Capela are both superior to Covington and wouldn’t be dealt.

Brandon Knight’s $15.6 million expiring contract would be mighty useful right now except that the Rockets dumped a first round pick to to trade it and acquire the similarly expiring contract of Iman Shumpert. As I’ve been ranting for over a year now, perhaps to many people’s annoyance, this is what happens when ownership doesn’t see the value in marginal upgrades. You get stuck without medium sized tradeable salaries and are left having to put together complicated deals with small salaries which have low odds of going through.

Hopefully Daryl can pull it off. Covington absolutely could be the difference in this team making a trip to the Finals even if he isn’t a household name to casuals.

To Russ or not to Russ

I shared some lineup data on Saturday morning, on Twitter, prior to the Rockets’ win over the Phoenix Suns. It did not reflect positively for Russell Westbrook.

What that means is that the Rockets are killing people when Russ is off the court. That hasn’t been the case when he’s been on the court.

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