Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni spoke about the decision to trade former center Clint Capela and bring in Robert Covington ahead of Sunday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
D’Antoni said the acquisition of Covington will go further in terms of the ability to “maximize” the potential of the team:
Mike D’Antoni on the #Rockets swapping Capela for Covington:
“We just look and see how we can maximize this team. It's doesn't have to do with 'they're making a statement, they're trying something crazy.' We play better this way.” pic.twitter.com/g5rlRp84ml
— Michael Shapiro (@mshap2) February 9, 2020
Capela is one of the better rebounders in the NBA, and he was Houston’s only reliable rim protector on a team that usually goes with smaller lineups.
However, Covington provides the Rockets with yet another floor-spacer who can knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers from beyond the arc, and he is also a capable wing defender.
There were plenty of skeptics as to how this ultra-small lineup would play out during Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite L.A.’s size advantage, however, the Lakers barely managed to outrebound the Rockets (38-37), while Houston went 19-of-42 from beyond the arc. For his part, Covington went 4-of-7 from deep, finishing the contest with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
There is another element to Houston’s decision to go smaller: removing Capela from the lineup opens up the paint for Russell Westbrook and James Harden, two players that excel at getting to the rim and finding shooters for open looks.
Of course, Thursday was just the first glimpse at the new-look Rockets. Houston will undoubtedly have to find ways to counteract the size disadvantage moving forward.
But for an offensive-minded coach like D’Antoni, adding Covington to the mix affords a wealth of new options with respect to how the Rockets will attack opposing defenses.
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