Philadelphia 76ers

Robert Covington Embodies The Process

Covington, now a coveted (and well-paid) three-and-D specialist, was an unpolished lanky three-point shooter when the Sixers picked him up during the 2014/15 season. It was head coach Brett Brown who challenged him to round out his game.

The Process, Pompey writes, was about developing young players amid all the years of tanking so a completed project like Covington – who now averages 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, not to mention 3.7 threes per contest at a .491 clip – is as fine an embodiment as any of the Sixers’ transition.

Sixers Say Markelle Fultz Is Making Progress

The Sixers announced some positive news on rookie guard Markelle Fultz, saying he is making progress from the ailments that have sidelined him since Oct. 23, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Team doctors say the soreness in Fultz’s right shoulder is dissipating and his muscle balance is improving. The team plans to re-evaluate him in two to three weeks to determine when he can return to action. That will be based on how his shoulder responds to training and treatment.

The top pick in this year’s draft, Fultz began to develop shoulder problems over the summer. He changed his shooting motion as a result and the results haven’t been pretty. He is shooting 33% from the field and 50% from the line during his first four NBA games.

Justin Anderson Sidelined By Shin Splints

Sixers forward Justin Anderson will miss at least three weeks because of shin splints in his left leg, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Anderson has appeared in 10 games this season, all off the bench, and is averaging 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes. He played nearly 22 minutes per night and started eight games at the end of last season after being acquired in a February deal with the Mavericks.

The injury should mean more playing time for second-year forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Pompey notes (Twitter link). The small forward out of France has played 13 games this season, producing 6.8 points in 16 minutes per night.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/18/17

Here are the G League moves from around the Association today:

  • The Grizzlies announced that forward Jarell Martin and center Deyonta Davis has been recalled from the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate. Martin has started in 12 of his 13 games for the Grizzlies this season and Davis has suited up for the NBA club twice.
  • The Sixers will recall Furkan Korkmaz from the Delaware 87ers before tonight’s game against the Warriors, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (link via Twitter). Korkmaz has made one appearance for Philadelphia this season.

Sixers Send Furkan Korkmaz To G League

  • The Sixers have assigned rookie guard Furkan Korkmaz to the G League, the club announced in a press release. The Delaware 87ers are in action tonight, so Korkmaz figures to suit up for them in their game against Erie.

Sixers Renegotiate, Extend Robert Covington’s Contract

NOVEMBER 17, 2:35pm: The Sixers have officially announced Covington’s new contract, confirming the deal in a press release.Robert Covington vertical

“Robert Covington is a prime example of what hard work, dedication and commitment can lead to,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. “Rob’s growth as a player on both ends of the floor makes him one of the most versatile and effective wings in the league, while his contributions of character and professionalism feature prominently in our evolving organizational culture. This extension is both well-deserved, and a really great story.”

NOVEMBER 15, 6:06pm: Sixers forward Robert Covington has agreed to a four-year extension valued at $62MM, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The official signing of the renegotiation/extension is planned for Friday, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link).

The new deal includes a renegotiated sum for this year, followed by four more seasons, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link). Philadelphia has roughly $15MM in available cap room, and all of that is expected to go to Covington on top of the $1,577,230 he is already making.

Bodner breaks down Covington’s new deal as $16,698,103 for this season, $10,018,862 for 2018/19, $10,820,371 for 2019/20, $11,621,880 for 2020/21 and $12,423,389 for 2021/22. (Twitter link). Those numbers aren’t yet official, but Bodner is confident that they’re very close to what the finalized deal will look like (Twitter link).

Today is the first day Covington is eligible to alter his current contract because it is the third anniversary of its signing. He had just been waived by the Rockets when the Sixers picked him up in November of 2014. He has developed into a reliable two-way player and has become a fixture in Philadelphia’s starting lineup.

Covington is averaging a career-high 16.8 points through 13 games, along with 5.7 rebounds and elite-level defense. He finished fourth in last year’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Hinkie

While Joel Embiid has attracted much of the attention following a career night on Wednesday, it could be Sixers forward Ben Simmons who ends up changing the NBA, Mike Sielski of The Inquirer writes.

The scribe writes that the 2016 first-overall pick is coasting to the Rookie of the Year Award with averages of 17.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. At the same time, the Sixers rookie is as marketable off the court as he is versatile on it.

Beyond all that, however, Sielski writes that Simmons’ openness about how pointless and unnecessary he feels the one-and-done rule preventing 18-year-olds from entering the NBA Draft is could add to his lasting impact on the league itself.

There’s more from the Sixers tonight:

  • The Process worked, Victor Mather of the New York Times writes. Mather breaks down the years-long, Sam Hinkie-led roster rebuild for the uninitiated.
  • Excitement around Joel Embiid grew ever so slightly this week as a stat-filling career best provided a glimpse into what could possibly be the Sixers’ future. That’s conditional, Sam Amick of USA Today writes, on if the big man can consistently stay on the court.
  • There have been no shortage of takes that LeBron James would be wise to join the Sixers via free agency next summer. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes that Philly could punish the Warriors in the paint with James on board.

And-Ones: E. Okafor, Perkins, S. Brown, Wood

Two NBA veterans have been among the most impressive G League standouts early in the season, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Emeka Okafor, 35, has spent the past four years recovering from surgery on a herniated disc in his neck. He joined the Sixers for training camp and opted to stay with the organization’s affiliate in Delaware. He is averaging 14.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and is shooting better than 60% from the field.

Kendrick Perkins was the Cavaliers’ final roster cut and went to Cleveland’s affiliate in Canton. He is averaging 13.0 points and 10.3 rebounds through three games. He has dropped weight and may still be able to help an NBA team at age 33.

There’s more news from the NBA and the G League:

  • Today is an important day for four players who were claimed off waivers during the offseason, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The BullsDavid Nwaba and Kay Felder, the HawksNicolas Brussino and the BucksDeAndre Liggins are all now eligible to be traded.
  • The Sixers used the remainder of this year’s cap space for the renegotiation/extension with Robert Covington, leaving just eight teams with cap room, according to Marks (Twitter link). They are the Bulls [$15.1MM], Mavericks [$12.5MM], Suns [$8.9MM], Pacers [$6.1MM], Kings [$4.3MM], Nets [$3.4MM], Hawks [$589K] and Magic [$549K].
  • Veteran guard Shannon Brown has been claimed from the G League player pool by the Wisconsin Herd, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways and 10 Days. The 31-year-old last played in the NBA in 2014, when he appeared in five games with the Heat.
  • Christian Wood has joined the Delaware 87ers as a returning player, according to Reichert (Twitter link). He played 13 games for the Hornets last year and ended the season in the G League.
  • International stars are having a greater impact on the NBA than ever before, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Many of the league’s best young players hail from overseas, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis, both considered early-season MVP candidates, along with Ben SimmonsAndrew WigginsJoel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. Ziller credits former commissioner David Stern for his focus on expanding the league to overseas markets. That strategy not only created more revenue, it exposed the NBA to an international audience and created a new reservoir of players.

Sixers Notes: Covington, Free Agency, Brown, Fultz

The new extension for Robert Covington leaves the Sixers with two possible free agency strategies for the future, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. The team could skip next year’s market and try to get J.J. Redick ($23MM) and Amir Johnson ($11MM) to again sign one-year deals close to their current salaries. That would give Philadelphia roughly $30MM to chase free agents in the summer of 2019. The Sixers figure to improve through the draft while they wait as they have their own pick for 2018 and an 86.9 chance to get the Lakers’ selection, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.

Another path would be to let Redick and Johnson leave next summer and enter the 2018 free agent market with about $25MM in cap space. Marks sees that as risky because the top two players available, LeBron James and Paul George, are unlikely to consider Philadelphia, and the next three, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins, don’t represent positions of need.

What the Sixers need most is shooters, Marks notes, and both Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler will be free agents in 2019. He adds that the organization’s window for using cap space will end after the 2019/20 season when Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will become restricted free agents if they are not extended before then.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Covington set a record for the largest single-year renegotiation in history by increasing his salary from $1.6MM to $16.7MM, Marks tweets. He is the eighth player in the past 20 years to have his contract renegotiated.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown sees his young team as “ahead of schedule” in its quest to become a contender, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. With a 7-6 record heading into tonight’s game, Philadelphia is off to its best start in five years. “I do feel that way,” said Joel Embiid. “Me personally, I’m still not there yet and we are still learning how to play with each other. … We are definitely ahead of the curve.”
  • First-round pick Markelle Fultz is participating in practice drills and he tries to work his way through a shoulder problem, Pompey writes in a separate story. Fultz, who has been diagnosed with a scapular muscle imbalance along with soreness in his right shoulder, hasn’t appeared in a game since Oct. 25 and doesn’t have a target date to start playing again. “I think that’s just up for the [doctors], not me to decide,” Brown said. “What I can control is having him with the team, the design of his workouts – those types of things. In relation to a time frame, that will be determined by our medical staff.”

Amir Johnson Takes Benching In Stride

Sixers veteran big man Amir Johnson isn’t pouting about sitting out the team’s loss to the Warriors on Saturday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11MM contract in the offseason, was actually appreciative that coach Brett Brown forewarned him that he would not play for the first time this season.  “I can’t do anything but respect having a coach come up to you and letting you know when you are going to get ready,” Johnson told Pompey. “With me being a vet, I always stay ready.” Johnson and Richaun Holmes are sharing time as center Joel Embiid‘s backups. Johnson isn’t concerned how his lack of playing time could impact him in the free agent market next summer, Pompey adds.

  • The Sixers will be without backup guard Nik Stauskas for at least a week. He’s out with a sprained right ankle, Pompey tweets, and will be reevaluated in 7-10 days. That leave the Sixers a little thin in the backcourt. Jerryd Bayless is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
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