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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni has big role in making Clint Capela trade for Robert Covington happen


Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey took a big risk at the NBA trade deadline by trading away starting center Clint Capela in a four-team deal exchange for defensive forward Robert Covington.

The trade left Houston without a starting-caliber big man on the roster as they transition to an ultra-small small-ball lineup. However, in a podcast interview with ESPN’s Zane Lowe this past weekend, Morey said that the trade couldn’t have happened without Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.

“The reality is without Mike D’Antoni, this Clint for Covington trade never happens. I’d be shocked if there’s very many coaches in the league where I could get that trade done,” Morey said.

“As a GM, you’re making what is a pretty big gamble. If you don’t have the coach on board in a way that he understands how to use what we were going to try and do, you can’t make that move. It’s just too risky.”

The Rockets are currently starting 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker and 6-foot-7 Covington in the frontcourt and for the most part, have been fairly successful.

“With Mike, I was like ‘Hey, we’re going to do this. If there’s a 5 [center] that makes some sense, we’ll look at it. But frankly, I think it makes sense maybe not to do it at all,” Morey added. “Coach D’Antoni saying, ‘I trust what you guys are doing, I see what you’re doing, and we’re going to make it work.’ That means so much. That’s what I look for the most, someone who challenges me, works with the whole organization, and can execute.”

The Rockets won their first five games with their new lineup after the All-Star break only to lose their next four — three of which came against teams with a losing record.

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