In one of the easiest decisions the 76ers will make all offseason, the team exercised the 2017-18 option on Robert Covington’s option, guaranteeing he’ll be with the team (barring a trade) when the season kicks off later this fall.
This was almost exclusively a procedural move for the Sixers, who didn’t want to Covington to unexpectedly become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s one of the most important pieces in place on the team, and his combination of (streaky) outside shooting and lockdown perimeter defense is extraordinarily valuable in today’s NBA.
As part of the press release, the Sixers revealed a fact I was not even cognizant of: Covington has already made the fifth-most threes in franchise history, behind Allen Iverson, Kyle Korver, Andre Iguodala, and Hersey Hawkins. Not bad company!
The real work on his contract is still yet to be done. Bryan Colangelo can work on an extension with Covington starting in July, or a renegotiation of his deal in November. Despite his name surfacing in larger trade packages—like their trade deadline offer for Paul George—team sources have indicated to Liberty Ballers that working something out to solidify Covington’s future is a major priority for the franchise.
What that future looks like depends a lot on who they draft at No. 3. He’s likely to be tasked with guarding every team’s best perimeter player moving forward, but he should also split his time at different forward spots depending on lineups. That will be harder to do if the Sixers draft a guy in the three/four hybrid mold, so he’ll be watching their other offseason activity closely.
Covington rising from the D-League and carving out a role for himself is one of the great success stories of Sam Hinkie’s tenure, and if he can somehow combine the plus shooting we saw in the past with the excellent defense we saw last year, look out.