KEY POINTS

  • ESPN's Bobby Marks thinks that Phoenix should go after Portland's Robert Covington
  • Jalen Smith and Dario Saric plus picks are the projected package for the 31-year-old swingman
  • Covington's proficiency on both ends of the ball may help improve the Suns' small-ball lineup

The Phoenix Suns are coming off a statement victory over the streaking Toronto Raptors, but the team needs a game-changing push if they are to contend for a title this season.

ESPN NBA front office insider Bobby Marks hopes that the Suns swing for the fences and acquire Portland Trail Blazers swingman Robert Covington ahead of the trade deadline.

Trading away second-year big man Jalen Smith and injured forward Dario Saric plus two second-round picks (2025 and 2026) for Covington seems like an overpay for the 31-year-old, but it cannot be denied that he would fit in well within the Suns roster.

Covington is in the last year of his four-year, $62 million deal that he had originally signed with the Philadelphia 76ers at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves then the Houston Rockets.

The Blazers acquired Covington from the Rockets a few weeks into the current season as they hope to give co-stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum some help on both ends of the ball.

However, Lillard and McCollum had been sidelined heavily this season as they deal with injuries that may entice the Blazers to call it a season and acquire some young, talent-laden pieces.

Smith has been an eye-opener for Suns fans after averaging 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in four starts, while Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee entered the league’s health and safety protocols.

The Suns front office opted not to pick up Smith’s third-year option, making him an unrestricted free agent once the season ends.

Phoenix’s path to the NBA championship has met an obstacle in the form of the vaunted Golden State Warriors, whom they lost to on Christmas Day, welcoming back Klay Thompson to the fold.

General manager James Jones may be enticed to make a move as soon as possible to combat the flexibility that Thompson affords the Warriors by bringing in Covington, who is currently averaging 7.4 points on 35.4 percent shooting from three, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks in 28.2 minutes.

Subscription-based stats website Cleaning the Glass has the Suns sitting in second place in terms of giving up points per 100 possessions (105.2) and eight in scoring points per 100 (112.6), both of which Covington could address.

Exchanging an injured Saric and Smith for a proven veteran like Covington could prove to be the game-changing move that the Suns can feasibly go for.

Starting forward Jae Crowder will be projected to keep his role with Covington serving as his backup as both players have the same set of skills and could easily be interchangeable in all lineups.

Phoenix is one of the NBA’s winningest teams in history who have yet to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy, and they hope to end that title drought this season with the right moves before the trade deadline.