LOS ANGELES — The deal that kicked off NBA trade season brought Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers. While he was the highlight of the package, the five-player trade also brought back another very important piece to the Clippers in Robert Covington.
Covington is one of the most versatile forwards in the league and a guy coveted by nearly every contender around the league. Over the last few weeks, trade talks with the Portland Trail Blazers began heating up as key role players saw their names more and more involved in rumors. Alongside Jusuf Nurkic, Covington was the guy many expected the Blazers to trade to recoup assets for this upcoming summer.
“I knew something was gonna happen, but it was just a matter of where,” Robert Covington said in his first press conference since the trade. “Initially it was shock, ’cause Clippers — I did not think I was gonna be coming this way. I thought it was more I’d be going on the East Coast, but the opportunity is new and I’ve embraced it. Like I said, it was just an initial shocker and it was, ‘Here we go again.'”
"I knew something was gonna happen, but it was just a matter of where. Initially it was shock cuz Clippers — I did not think I was gonna be coming this way. I thought it was more I'd be going on the East Coast, but the opportunity is new & I've embraced it.”
– Robert Covington pic.twitter.com/xKQsioU3VT
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 7, 2022
Covington made his Clippers debut Sunday night in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The nine-year NBA veteran came off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds while knocking down three triples on six attempts. The former Blazer he was traded with, Norman Powell, finished with a team-high 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
“It’s a new opportunity, go in and do what I do best and just embrace it, and the dynamics — I know a lot of guys over here, and just bringing it in, new opportunity, new team, I’m still gonna bring that same energy, that same dynamic, that same defensive mentality here, and it’s just gonna add on to what these guys already have.”
The addition of Robert Covington now makes the Clippers arguably the most dynamic team in the NBA. Alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, LA now has three 7-foot centers as well as three small-ball centers in Covington, Marcus Morris, and Nicolas Batum.
“[We have] so much versatility, Covington added. “We can throw different matchups and guys can guard so many different things, so many different people on the court, that it’s gonna make some problems for the other team, so us moving forward and once we get everybody back healthy, it’s just gonna make everything more scary, like I said.”
Adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to this already lengthy team already has Covington thinking what could be.
“[I’m] beyond excited. It’s gonna make us dynamic — more dynamic than what we already are and it’s gonna be scary defensively.”
While Powell is signed for four more seasons after this one, Covington is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer. The Clippers did get Covington’s Bird rights by trading for him, and they’ll have the opportunity to re-sign him this summer.
“It’s great to have Cov, who is a proven vet, defensive versatility,” Clippers president Lawrence Frank said after the trade. “I think you guys see it. His team defense is when you watch him play, if you just watch him off the ball, that’s really his magic and then one, he’s not afraid to take 3s, and he makes them at league or above league average depending on the year. With that being said, we also understand he’s an unrestricted free agent who has the right to choose. But we’re very happy to have them as well.”
According to a league source, Robert Covington and the Clippers have yet to discuss the forward’s future with the franchise. He could technically still be traded ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline, but a source says Covington would absolutely welcome remaining with the team beyond just this season as it pursues the first championship in franchise history.
The acquisition of Robert Covington could also serve as a potential backup if Nicolas Batum declines his player option and leaves in free agency this summer, but there’s no indication of that happening. By all accounts, Batum and his family have loved their time in Los Angeles.
The former Blazers forward has a few months to showcase his fit with this Clippers team, which is intent on making the playoffs this year regardless of whether Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return this season. And at the end of the day, all that matters to him is winning.
“I’m completely different from everybody else, so I always bring my own dynamic. I don’t care about praise or any of that nature. I just wanna win, and I’m gonna do whatever it takes. And that’s my mentality. I’ve never cared about what people compared me to, or anything, I just know I want to do my job on the court.”