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ESPN reports Portland will acquire power forward from Houston for Ariza, draft picks ahead of Wednesday's NBA Draft.

Robert CovingtonThe short NBA offseason — a 72-game regular season is planned to start on Dec. 22 — kicks into high gear this week with the draft on Wednesday, Nov. 18, followed by free agency starting on Friday, Nov. 20.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers will trade away their first-round pick to Houston as part of a deal to acquire 6-foot-8 power forward Robert Covington.

The Blazers will send Trevor Ariza, the 16th pick in this draft and their protected first-round pick in 2021 to Houston in the deal.

Covington, 29, averaged 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in 70 games with Minnesota and Houston last season. But this trade is more about improving Portland's defense than it is about scoring.

The Blazers enter Wednesday's draft with the 46th overall pick in the second round.

The NBA Draft starts at 4 p.m. PST Wednesday and will be televised by ESPN.

ESPN's Wojnarowski is reporting that Rodney Hood will decline his $6 million player option to become a free agent.

In addition to who Portland selects, another reason to watch the draft is to see who drafts Payton Pritchard.

The West Linn High School and University of Oregon grad is a rare bird these days, when teams tend to favor high school graduates or first-year college players who supposedly have a "high ceiling." Pritchard, meanwhile, played four years of college ball for the Ducks.

He's also been a winner everywhere. His clutch shooting last season ultimately made Pac-12 champions of the Ducks.

As for free agency, don't expect Portland to make a big splash. Hasaan Whiteside is the best center available and likely to leave Portland. It will also be interesting to see if Carmelo Anthony attracts an offer he can't pass up and leaves, too.


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