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Hollinger Reacts to Covington Deal

John Hollinger of the Athletic likes the move, but says there’s still more to do.

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Now that Robert Covington has been traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, the reaction is pouring in. John Hollinger of the Athletic shared his thoughts on what the deal means for Portland:

The interesting part for Portland is whether this means it will play small more often next season. The Blazers came into 2019-20 hoping to play big with Zach Collins as a power forward next to Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic, but their best moments came with Carmelo Anthony spacing the floor from the 4 spot.

One big difference between Covington and Ariza is that Covington is much more viable as a full-time 4, and his presence could allow Portland to ride with Nurkic at 5 and Collins the third big toggling between those spots. With Rodney Hood likely returning and Gary Trent, Jr. an emerging force, the Blazers have other options on the perimeter.

Hollinger also makes sure to point out the Trail Blazers defensive issues aren’t entirely fixed after this deal:

The other lingering issue is that the Blazers still might be quite bad at defense after all this. Covington is an outstanding team defender but average one-on-one, and Ariza was the closest thing Portland had to an on-ball stopper. I would expect Trent Jr. to be pressed into that role if no other options emerge, but asking him to check elite scorers every night is beyond his current capabilities.

That’s where nabbing an elite wing defender in free agency could still really benefit Portland. Dunn is the biggest name, but Crowder, Justin Holiday and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are other potential options here.

You can read the full analysis here (subscription required).

The Trail Blazers still have the MLE, BAE, and an approximately $7.1 million trade exception to use.