The NBA's most expansive trade in nearly two decades went down overnight. The Houston Rockets acquired Robert Covington and traded center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team, 12-player deal Tuesday night, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Per ESPN's Bobby Marks, this deal includes the most players involved since the Knicks moved Patrick Ewing to the SuperSonics in 2000.
In addition to the bevy of draft picks exchanged in the complicated deal, the key players in addition to Covington and Capela include Denver shipping Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez to Minnesota, while Denver notably nets Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh from the Timberwolves.
With an eye on the fantasy fallout of this megadeal, let's assess which players gained, maintained and lost value in this significant transaction.
Who maintained value?
Capela ranked fourth in the NBA with 22.4 rebounding chances per game with Houston this season. Chances are defined as being within 3.5 feet of an available rebound. Whatever Capela might give up in terms of rebounding chances next to John Collins, I think he can offset with increased scoring and rim protection opportunities.
Capela also ranked second in the NBA behind only Deandre Ayton with 12.3 post touches per game. I think Capela can capably replicate these post numbers as the key roll man in the two-man pick-and-roll game with a brilliant passer in Trae Young. It also helps that this Hawks team sits second behind only the Bucks in pace (possessions per 48 minutes) during the past 15 games.
Who lost value?
Napier was thriving from a fantasy standpoint in recent weeks thanks to unfettered freedom as a ball handler and creator for Minnesota. Now on a Denver roster flush with quality guards and an elite passer in Nikola Jokic, Napier's fantasy value takes a notable hit and likely signals he can be dropped in most leagues.
Who gained value?
Houston is seemingly chasing a small-ball identity famously perfected by Golden State during recent seasons. With a new $12 million cap window opened in the wake of dealing Capela, Houston could still seek support at center, but for now, let's evaluate its current wing-centric build.
• P.J. Tucker played 41 minutes on Tuesday en route to a solid double-double showing as the de facto center for Houston with Capela held out for obvious reasons. Tucker has always played bigger on defense than his 6-foot-5 frame might indicate.
• In playing next to assist mavens in James Harden and Russell Westbrook after playing for a Timberwolves team that essentially didn't roster a gifted passer, Covington should see a rewarding uptick in uncontested catch-and-shoot 3-point opportunities. A defensive dynamo known for gaudy steal and block rates, Covington will almost surely maintain and likely increases his fantasy stock in the move to Texas.
• Another takeaway from this move could be that starting capable big men against Houston in the coming weeks could prove very rewarding, as the team simply doesn't have much size or rim protection on the roster. Jordan Bell's arrival in Houston could be of interest to those in truly deep fantasy formats, but I'd wait for the dust to settle after the deadline to act on shares of Bell in leagues with 12 or fewer teams.
• Beasley was essentially buried in the Denver rotation, especially now that Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are healthy. So Beasley's move to Minnesota signals a sizable leap in fantasy value now that he could regularly reach 30 minutes of play. An impending restricted free agent in a somewhat barren 2020 free-agent class, Beasley could feast on more opportunities in Minnesota and become arguably the most exciting fantasy free agent involved in this deal. Consider that Beasley, who is rostered in just 4.8% of ESPN leagues as of Wednesday morning, posted impressive per-36-minute rates of 17.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 3PG, and 1.1 SPG for Denver last season.
• I'd also consider Jarrett Culver an upgrade after this transaction, as the Wolves' rookie wing is likely to assume plenty of point guard duties on a Minnesota team lacking proven distributors. Evan Turner landed with the Wolves from Atlanta in this deal and has flashed as a passer in previous situations, but I wouldn't bank on him serving a significant role.
More deals are surely on the way as Thursday's deadline looms. Even this deal could expand now that Houston has cap space to play with, as Wojnarowski has noted on SportsCenter. It's your role as a fantasy manager to swiftly and deftly react to such activity, such as speculatively adding Beasley from free agency in the wake of a meaningful role change.
Danuel House Jr., Houston Rockets: 22 points (8-13 FG), 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: 29 points (11-17 FG), 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 4 TO
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets: 2 points (1-3 FG), 3 assists
• Houston's Harden delivered 40 points, but since this isn't so far off his season average, the bar is somewhat high for him to surface in the highlights section. It is fun to note that this was his 95th career 40-point showing, fourth most in NBA history. House Jr. and Ben McLemore both enjoyed awesome shooting freedom last night, a trend that could continue as the wing-centric Rockets go forward.
• In a loss to the Bucks, the Pelicans saw super-rookie Zion Williamson shoot below 50% from the floor for the first time in his young career. He did, however, deliver his third consecutive 20-point, 5-rebound performance, the longest such streak by a rookie in franchise history.
• Sticking with New Orleans, Lonzo Ball's revival as a do-everything combo guard is paying dividends for patient fantasy investors, as he delivered 14 rebounds despite struggling to find his shot. I still find unique value in creating space on your fantasy team(s) for Josh Hart, who is also one of the league's best rebounding guards and continues to provide value in a busy bench role with New Orleans.
Injuries of note
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
Derrick Rose won't play for the Pistons tonight due to a left hip strain. It's tough to gauge how much of Rose's absence is fueled by injury and to what degree his trade value influences his status, but either way, shares of point guard Reggie Jackson in both redraft and DFS play could prove profitable.
I'm also intrigued by Bruce Brown Jr. for tonight's matchup with the Suns. Brown Jr. has seen his minutes per game leap by more than 40% in the past two outings (compared to all previous games this season) and has averaged 15.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 6.0 APG in 38.2 MPG in those games.
Top players to watch on Wednesday
Kyrie Irving won't play for Brooklyn tonight thanks to a knee injury suffered this past weekend. Spencer Dinwiddie is a fantasy star in such scenarios, while Caris LeVert needs to be rostered given a likely uptick in offensive workload.
I'll be watching this game against the visiting Warriors, mostly to see how LeVert -- who is a free agent in roughly half of ESPN leagues -- follows up Monday's huge 29-point showing.