Making officially official what seemed to be unofficially official for a while, Adrian Wojnarowski has reported (and Shams seconded, saying Cov will sign Friday) that the Sixers and Robert Covington have agreed to a 4-year, $62 million renegotiation and extension. Up until this season, Covington’s total earnings were $3,165,696, and before restructuring this year of his deal, Cov was making $1,577,230 for this season. Reports say Cov will receive the remainder of the Sixers’ cap for this season, then the rest of the money over the next four years. As Woj reported:
The deal will include a $15 million renegotiation bump on Covington's $1.57 million salary this season, plus an additional four years that'll keep Covington under contract through the 2021-22 season.
Covington has spent the last few years cementing himself as one of the most important pieces of a young Sixers core, and this year he has played like the team’s MVP, posting a Box Plus-Minus of 5.1, shooting 50% from 3 on 7+ attempts per game, and showing himself to be one of the premier 3-and-D guys in the NBA:
Covington was undrafted in 2013, before being signed by the Houston Rockets out of Summer League. Cov played a total of 7 games for the Rockets while pulling double-duty with the then D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was named the D-League Rookie of the Year. The next season, Covington was drafted first overall in the D-League draft by the Grand Rapids Drive, but four years ago today, the Sixers waived Chris Johnson to sign RoCo before he could play a minute for Grand Rapids.
Sam Hinkie wrote this of Covington in his resignation letter:
Robert is a mistake I rubbed my own nose in for over a year. The 2013 Draft was a flurry of activity for us—a handful of trades and selections in both the first and second rounds. We had more action following the draft as we tried to finalize our summer league team and get the myriad trade calls set up with the NBA. I could see this coming a few days before and we informed the media that this kind of approach might lead to an unusually late start for the post-draft press conference. Several of you were still there late that night. At about 1:00 a.m. I went downstairs to address an equally exhausted media on deadline from their editors. When I returned upstairs, the undrafted Robert Covington was gone, having agreed to play for another club’s summer league team, eventually making their regular season roster. He torched the D-League that year, haunting me all the while. When he became available 17 months later, we pounced. But I shudder, even now, at that (nearly) missed opportunity.
In the time since, Covington has established himself as not only the longest-tenured Sixer, but the most reliable. In seasons of ups and downs and downs and downs, RoCo’s permieter defense, quick hands, and long-range ability kept the Sixers in games they shouldn’t have been in, and (as it was on Monday) put them over the top in wins. Through cold stretches and boos, he never let up on his drive and never stopped shooting. In 2014, Tom Ley of Deadspin famously wrote:
Which brings us back to Robert Covington. The Sixers did not sign Robert Covington or any of the other undrafted scrubs that populate the roster because they are looking for good basketball players who can help them win basketball games. They signed him because they only have to pay him $816,482 to go out and do things like shoot 1-of-5 from the field in 17 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs. Robert Covington is in Philly to help the Sixers lose.
Ley was wrong then, and his take looks laughably ignorant now. Covington may not have come into the league as a go-to option, 3-and-D warrior, and calming presence, but in the time since he’s done what so many NBA players can’t seem to do: He’s grown. Massively. RoCo now is miles beyond the RoCo of 2014, and with this contract, the Sixers are hoping the RoCo of the future will be the same.