As we rapidly approach the trade deadline, all indications point to the Minnesota Timberwolves moving their coveted three-and-D wing: Robert Covington. But what will those trade offers look like?
Minnesota Timberwolves veteran forward Robert Covington has been one of the most talked-about trade targets this season. Because of his elite defense, competent outside shooting, and team-friendly contract, Covington is one of the top options on the trade market.
We’ve recently heard rumors that the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Philadelphia 76ers are all interested. However, none of them have any great assets to send back to Minnesota, so let’s look at some other contending teams that could use the services of Covington while also helping the Timberwolves fill some holes.
The Rockets could easily enter this race as they are shopping Clint Capela for trade and draft assets, but right now, they don’t have the pieces to make a trade so we won’t include them.
The Timberwolves have made it known that they want two first-round picks for Covington. This seems to be a high mark that most teams won’t meet, but it is a good place to start with negotiations.
Minnesota is also in desperate need of a point guard and outside shooting. Three teams that can benefit from acquiring Covington who also have intriguing trade pieces are the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Let's take a look at what each of them can offer, and whether those potential deals make sense for the Wolves.
Portland Trail Blazers
Trading with the Trail Blazers could go a couple of ways, but here is the first option:
- Robert Covington
- Gorgui Dieng
The Trail Blazers' lack of wing production has been evident since Damian Lillard joined the league. Now that Lillard is playing Hall of Fame-level basketball and they are only 1.5 games out of the eighth seed, the addition of Covington would instantly add a consistent wing shooter and a top-level wing defender to their roster.
Taking on Dieng in the deal will help fill the hole left by Whiteside, and the Blazers may be getting one of their prominent big men back from injury soon. Gorgui has been very good defensively this year, and his ability to space the floor will open the lane for their guards to make plays.
The main benefit for the Wolves in this transaction is the acquisition of Anfernee Simons.
Simons is a very promising young point guard who can create on offense. Simons ranks in the 63rd percentile in points per possession (PPP) as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 63rd percentile in isolation, and the 97th percentile as a cutter, per Synergy. On top of that, his PPP when passing out of the pick-and-roll is in the 76th percentile.
The impact of Simons may not be immediately felt, but he has an extremely high ceiling while being a productive player right away. He would bring a sense of creativity and youth to an offense that can get stale and stagnant.
What holds me up about this trade is the inclusion of Whiteside. Whiteside has played some solid minutes for the Trail Blazers this season, but I generally view him as a toxic player that you don’t want to add to your team. By including him though, the Timberwolves would be acquiring a $27 million contract that would expire after this season.
The other option for this trade was to exclude Dieng and replace Whiteside with Jusuf Nurkic. I prefer this move for the Timberwolves, but the Trail Blazers like Nurkic and I believe they would be very hesitant to include him as he is approaching his return to the floor.
This trade provides the Timberwolves with a massive expiring contract, a young point guard who has shown immense potential, and a first-round pick.
If you're not sold on this particular trade, let's look at another option including the Pacers.
- Robert Covington
It was leaked earlier this season that the Pacers have shot down any of the Timberwolves’ inquisitions for Holiday. But since the return of Victor Oladipo, Holiday has seen a reduced role in Indiana.
Covington would provide more wing depth that the Pacers will need in the playoffs to try and contain the elite wings of the East. Against the other top six teams in the East, the Pacers have gone 4-5 while being outscored by 31 points. Covington’s defense would help contain the top wings they will face while also providing quality outside shooting.
This trade would also be a pretty dramatic improvement for the Timberwolves as well. Not a knock on Covington whom I love, but McDermott and Holiday’s impact would be an upgrade over the veteran forward.
McDermott is currently shooting 45.5 percent from three on just over four attempts per game. Cleaning the Glass ranks McDermott in the 98th percentile as an outside shooter and the 94th percentile in effective field goal percentage.
McDermott also ranks in the 92nd percentile when running off screens, 88th percentile when spotting up, and the 93rd percentile in transition, per Synergy.
Additionally, the Timberwolves would be bringing in a young point guard who can run an offense from day one. Holiday needs to improve his navigation of the pick-and-roll, but in isolation he ranks in the 83rd percentile and the 97th percentile when spotting up.
The Timberwolves rank third in the league in three-point attempts but are only shooting 32.2 percent which is the second-worst number in the league. By sacrificing the versatility of Covington for McDermott and Holiday, the Timberwolves would immediately improve their effectiveness on offense.
If neither of those first two options tickle your fancy, let's look at what the Milwaukee Bucks could offer.
- Robert Covington
There have been whispers of Milwaukee's desire to add Robert Covington but nothing concrete that would lead to the Bucks breaking up what they have.
Milwaukee needs to continuously prove to Giannis Antetokounmpo that they are committed to winning and are willing to make difficult decisions to do so. Sacrificing a few role players to add another elite three-and-D wing is a move that would show him their commitment and help them win a championship this year.
Covington’s defensive impact paired with his outside shooting is an ideal fit for the Bucks' style of play.
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While the experience of Ilyasova and the potential of Brown are nice, the true prize for Minnesota in this deal is Donte DiVincenzo.
DiVincenzo has consistently earned a bigger role throughout the season. His outside shooting has improved to 34.2 percent and he is in the 68th percentile in PPP allowed.
DiVincenzo has proven that he can be effective with the ball in his hands or playing off the ball. Whether he is asked to come off the bench, run the offense, or act as a spot-up shooter, DiVincenzo always steps up.
Trading Robert Covington is something I wish wasn’t in the cards for this team, but unfortunately the complete collapse of this season has provided few other options. The Trail Blazers, Pacers, and Bucks would all benefit from the addition of Covington, but more importantly they all have pieces that would help the Timberwolves rebuild.