The 2022 NBA Trade Deadline is just two weeks away, and there’s a new rumor regarding the Timberwolves‘ reported interest in former Wolf Robert Covington.
Timberwolves Rumors: Wolves reportedly interested in Robert Covington
The Timberwolves have had rumored interest in a number of true, headline-grabbing difference-makers, from Philadelphia 76ers superstar Ben Simmons, to well-rounded Indiana Pacers’ star Myles Turner, to the potential “prize” of the trade deadline in Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant.
Now, according to Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto, the Wolves are reportedly interested in old friend and current Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington.
Acquiring Covington would obviously not be on the same level as any of the aforementioned names in terms of splashiness, and he ultimately wouldn’t have the same impact as any of those players.
Additionally, Covington is on an expiring contract and would be a rental, whereas the likes of Turner and Grant are both under contract through the 2022-23 season and Simmons would be locked up through the 2024-25 campaign.
Of course, the price to acquire Covington would be much, much lower than any of the aforementioned players. It’s hard to say exactly what the asking price is for Portland, but in addition to the Wolves, Utah Jazz, and Cleveland Cavaliers, Scotto and Yossi Gozlan both acknowledge that there are certainly other teams pursuing RoCo’s services.
Covington is making $12.9 million this year. The only salaries on the Wolves’ books that would make sense to trade and are in that realm are Patrick Beverley ($14.3 million) and Taurean Prince ($13 million), both on expiring contracts.
The cleanest way to consummate a trade would clearly be to attach a pick to one of those deals and call it a day. However, trading Beverley makes zero sense, given the impact he’s had on the Wolves, plus the disappointing year that Jordan McLaughlin has had when healthy. There isn’t enough point guard depth to justify this trade, even in light of Beverley’s career-worst shooting season to this point.
While Covington is a better player and a better fit than Prince, it’s absolutely not worth it to attach a first-round pick for a couple of months of RoCo. A second-rounder is probably worth it from the Wolves side of things, but Portland will surely have better offers, and there’s also the luxury tax issue from their side of things.
For instance, if the Trail Blazers are intrigued by Malik Beasley and the Wolves are feeling buyer’s remorse (both of these things are possible), there could be a deal to have there. If there isn’t much else that the Wolves would have to give up with him, they could consider it to get off of Beasley’s salary.
Then again, the Blazers need to shed roughly $3 million in salary to get below the luxury tax, and adding Beasley would only increase the tax bill for a team that may not make the playoffs and could be in need of a roster reboot.
The Wolves would be happy to combine some smaller salaries to make a trade happen, but Josh Okogie’s $4 million and Jake Layman’s $3.9 million aren’t enough to get it done, and there aren’t many other salaries to throw in that would make it work. Adding Jordan McLaughlin’s $2 million doesn’t quite get it there, besides, a 3-for-1 trade of expiring contracts doesn’t make much sense from Portland’s side of things.
The most realistic possibility is something like this:
Again, this probably doesn’t get the Blazers out of bed; it’s fair to assume they’d find a better package out there. But it almost gets them out of the luxury tax, and with another tweak — adding Greg Brown III and his $925,000 salary, for instance — could help them clear the threshold.
Now the question remains, is the upgrade from Prince to Covington worth a pair of second-round picks? It’s not clear that it is.
At the end of the day, Portland will get a better offer than this, and even this price is probably a bit steep for the Wolves to pay for a minor upgrade. Still, Covington is a name to watch, and as long as the Blazers are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold and languishing towards the back of the play-in conversation in the Western Conference, a potential deal is on the table.