Robert Covington

Robert Covington Undergoes Finger Surgery

Sixers forward Robert Covington has undergone successful surgery to repair the extensor tendon in his left middle finger, the team announced today in a press release. While the procedure was completed today, Covington has been dealing with the injury since December 28.

According to the Sixers, Covington will be able to use his left hand immediately, though he’ll wear a splint on the injured finger while he recovers. He’ll be re-evaluated in two or three weeks to assess whether he’s able to resume basketball activities. In other words, he should be back to 100% well before training camp gets underway in September.

Covington, 27, averaged 12.6 PPG and 5.4 RPG with a .413/.369/.853 shooting line in 80 games as Philadelphia’s starting small forward this season. However, he struggled in the postseason, slipping to 8.1 PPG on .325/.313/.750 shooting. He was particularly ineffective against the Celtics, making just 11 of 41 shots (26.8%) in the five-game series.

Having renegotiated his contract with the Sixers in the fall, Covington remains under contract with the franchise through the 2021/22 season. His salary will dip from $16.7MM this season to $10.46MM in 2018/19 before eventually rising back up to $12.98MM by the final year of his extension.

Sixers Notes: George, Brown, McConnell, Covington

The Sixers should pursue Paul George rather than LeBron James in free agency, contends Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. George is a better fit, Bontemps argues, because he would allow Ben Simmons to remain the primary ballhandler. Simmons is accomplished in nearly every phase of the game except for shooting and wouldn’t be effective spotting up alongside James.

George not only adds another 3-point shooter, he is a top defender who would create a smothering combination with Robert Covington. He could also serve as a second playmaker in case Markelle Fultz can’t overcome the issues that sank his rookie season.

The other benefit is age, Bontemps notes, with George about five-and-a-half years younger than James. He showed an ability to adapt to a new situation in Oklahoma City and would have plenty of prime seasons left for Simmons and Joel Embiid to develop as players.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • An extension for coach Brett Brown should be the Sixers’ first move of the offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider account). Brown is entering the final season of the extension he signed in 2015 and deserves to be rewarded for the adversity he has guided the franchise through, Marks argues.
  • The Sixers will be taking a risk if they exercise T.J. McConnell‘s $1.6MM option for next season, Marks adds in the same story. While that would be an easy way to preserve cap room, it would also make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. The alternative is to decline his option and extend a qualifying offer, which would throw him into restricted free agency right away. His price will go up — Marks estimates about $4MM to $5MM annually — but the Sixers can match any offer and lock him up for the long term. McConnell becomes eligible for an extension in July and can have his salary for next season negotiated with cap space beginning September 22.
  • Covington didn’t live up to his four-year, $62MM extension in the playoffs, writes Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After starting 80 games in the regular season, Covington was replaced in the starting lineup by McConnell and fell behind Justin Anderson in the rotation. The playoffs may have redefined several players’ roles, Hayes notes, and it’s possible that Covington isn’t a good fit anymore.
  • The Sixers are holding their exit interviews today, with much of the focus on the free agents. J.J. Redick, who signed a one-year deal last summer, will consider money, the chance to win and closeness to home when deciding on his next move, tweets Rich Hoffman of The Athletic. “This was probably my favorite year of my career. … Playing in Philly is its own experience. The buzz about this team was amazing,” Redick said (Twitter link from Derek Bodner of The Athletic). “We all hope that I am back. The [contract] numbers can get tricky. It’s not my job to worry about that.” (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Okafor, Jackson, Mills, Covington

The Nets led the Wizards by 40 points at one point in Friday’s win in Brooklyn but recently acquired big man Jahlil Okafor never left the bench. Okafor only played in two games with the Sixers before he was traded to the Nets. The team will not deviate from their plan of using Okafor until he’s in optimal physical shape, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

The Barclays Center fans chanted “We Want Okafor!” in the late stages of the game. Head coach Kenny Atkinson said it was tempting to send Okafor into the game but the team’s plans for Okafor are long-term.

“Yeah, I heard it, and I respect the fans and I understand they want to see him,” Atkinson said. “I think we’ve stated from the beginning there’s a plan for him. We’re going to stick with the plan. It was tempting, but again I think we want to put him in the best position to succeed. So we’re going to stick with the plan. I think that’s a little more down the line.”

Okafor, 22, has appeared in just one game with Brooklyn since the trade, posting 10 points and four rebounds in a loss to the Raptors on December 15.  General manager Sean Marks has not given a definitive date on when Okafor should be in shape but estimated the former third overall pick is possibly two weeks away from regular playing time.

Check out other news from the Atlantic Division below:

Atlantic Notes: Covington, Siakam, Porzingis

While the common reaction may be to tout Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as prime examples of The Process paying off, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes that Robert Covington may be a better example.

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.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin in street clothes, now is Isaiah Whitehead‘s time to earn playing time at the point guard position, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I think I’ve matured a lot since last year,” Whitehead says of the fluctuations in his role with the Nets. “I don’t think I would have been able to handle that last year. But I’ve matured a lot, knowing it’s for the better. … I think I reacted well to it.
  • Second-year forward Pascal Siakam has made an impact on Raptors games with his relentless energy level, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. “He don’t get tired,” teammate DeMar DeRozan says. “I don’t understand it. Y’all should see him before practice. He’s out there doing all types of drills, already sweating and everything. It’s crazy to see.
  • An eclectic offseason training regime can be credited, at least in part, with Kristaps Porzingis‘ emergence as a superstar this season, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The Knicks big man trained with a professional boxer and went on a safari in South Africa.

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: 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.”

Sixers, Robert Covington On Track For Extension

Veteran forward Robert Covington will become eligible for a contract renegotiation next Wednesday, and he and the Sixers are on track to get something done quickly, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). ESPN’s Zach Lowe expressed a similar sentiment, writing today that a new deal between Covington and the 76ers should be done “within days” after he becomes eligible.

Covington, who will turn 27 next month, is technically already eligible for a veteran extension. However, he will become renegotiation-eligible on November 15, a date which represents the three-year mark since he signed his current contract. A straight extension would significantly limit the amount of money Covington is able to receive — a renegotiation and extension would allow him to receive a substantial raise for the 2017/18 season using Philadelphia’s cap room.

As Stein notes (via Twitter), the widespread expectation is that Covington will receive about $15MM in extra salary for the current season, with subsequent years of his contract being worth a little less than that. In a piece earlier this year, Derek Bodner laid out the specifics for how a Covington extension and renegotiation could work, and how it could give the Sixers more cap flexibility in future years by being structured with declining annual salaries.

Philadelphia only has about $84MM in salary on its books for 2017/18 at the moment, giving the team plenty of room below the $99MM cap to use on a new deal for Covington. Without that cap space, the Sixers would only be able to go up to about $9.4MM as a starting salary for the three-and-D forward, and that figure would apply to next season, not this season.

Although he has been a reliable part of the Sixers’ rotation for years, Covington has played some of the best ball of his career early in 2017/18, averaging career-bests in PPG (16.1), FG% (4.80), and 3PT% (.500) so far. He’s also considered a strong defender on the perimeter, with head coach Brett Brown stressing the forward’s importance to the club on “both sides of the ball,” as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays.

Despite the fact that Covington, who has been on a minimum salary contract throughout his five-year career, is on the verge of his first big payday, he doesn’t sound eager to get too involved in next week’s negotiations.

“If it happens, it happens,” Covington said of an extension, per Pompey. “I’m not too focused on that right now. I just focused on how I play on the court, because my production alone will separate me and put me in a position to where it forces their hand.”

We ranked Covington 11th in our most recent 2018 free agent power rankings. Unless negotiations with the Sixers hit a snag, it sounds like we’ll be able to remove him from the list entirely when we complete our next update.

Bulls, Hawks Most Likely Suitors For Okafor?

The Bulls and Hawks appear to be the most likely landing spots for Jahlil Okafor, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, who cites league sources in his latest report at NBA.com. However, the Sixers continue to hold out for “at least a draft pick,” Aldridge writes.

While it’s not clear if Aldridge is referring to a first-round pick or just a decent second-rounder, his report sounds similar to one from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski last week. Wojnarowski indicated that the 76ers remain committed to acquiring some sort of “asset” in exchange for Okafor, who has asked to be traded or bought out.

[RELATED: Jahlil Okafor confirms he wants trade or buyout]

The Bulls and Hawks are both very much in rebuilding mode, with just two wins apiece so far this season, so a move to acquire a 21-year-old with Okafor’s pedigree would make sense for either team. However, both clubs figure to maintain a tight hold on their draft picks, and – like Boston – would almost certainly be unwilling to part with a first-rounder for Okafor.

Although the former third overall pick still has plenty of potential, his contract situation makes him a tough sell. Because his fourth-year option was turned down, Okafor will be an unrestricted free agent next July, and the team carrying him as season’s end won’t be able to offer him a contract with a starting salary higher than about $6.3MM, the amount of his declined option. So if Okafor were to be traded now and then enjoyed a breakout year with his new team, that club may not be able to re-sign him.

Okafor would like resolution sooner rather than later, but as Aldridge notes, it’s possible that the Sixers will hang onto him as insurance against a potential Joel Embiid injury, or in order to use him as a salary-matching piece in a deadline deal.

The 76ers don’t want to take on any extra salary in a potential Okafor trade, since they want to have the flexibility to renegotiate Robert Covington‘s contract after November 15 and to retain cap space for next summer, says Aldridge. Philadelphia is also reluctant to buy out Okafor, according to Aldridge, since they believe it would take the division-rival Celtics “about 30 seconds to scarf him up.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Saric, Covington, Fultz

Joel Embiid‘s teammates believe the Sixers made the right move by rewarding him with a five-year extension, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid is slated to receive $148MM, but the value could go as high as $178MM if he meets certain criteria. There are also several salary cap protections to guard the organization against further injury for Embiid, who has played just 31 games in three seasons. “Have you seen him play? He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons responded when asked about the extension. “I can’t name one person that can stop him. Honestly, there’s nobody that can compete with him at his position. No one.”

Embiid is still recovering from “minor” surgery in March to fix a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Sixers were hoping to have him ready for the October 18 season opener, but rehab has been going well and Pompey suggests he may play in Friday’s preseason finale. Embiid’s last game before the surgery was January 27.

There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:

  • Embiid’s cap hit for next summer will be either $25.2MM or $30.3MM, depending on whether he meets the qualifications for the 30% max, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. If Embiid is only at the 25% max, Philadelphia will have about $53.34MM in committed salary heading into next year’s free agent sweepstakes. That leaves roughly $47.6MM, but that figure will be reduced by draft picks and option decisions. The Sixers may have two first-rounders if they land the Lakers’ pick, and they have to determine whether to extend rookie-scale contracts for Jahlil Okafor ($6.3MM in 2018/19), Dario Saric ($2.5MM) and Justin Anderson ($2.5MM) by the end of October. Bodner writes that the Sixers are certain to pick up Saric’s option, but Okafor and Anderson are less definite. Philadelphia also has team options on T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes valued at $1.6MM each, but those don’t have to be addressed until June 29.
  • The team’s most important remaining salary decision involves Robert Covington, Bodner adds in the same piece. Starting November 15, Covington will be eligible to have his contract renegotiated or extended. He will become a free agent with a $3MM cap hold next summer if nothing is done.
  • Rookie guard Markelle Fultz may still be suffering the effects of a right shoulder injury, Pompey relays in a separate story. The first overall pick had to sit out Friday’s game and is shooting just 29.2% from the floor in the preseason. “I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body. But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”

Atlantic Notes: Miles, Morris, Covington, Olynyk

C.J. Miles and Norman Powell enter the Raptors’ training camp as the primary contenders for the starting small forward spot, coach Dwane Casey told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and other media members. The winner in the competition will join guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, power forward Serge Ibaka and center Jonas Valanciunas in the starting five. Miles, the former Pacers swingman, was signed by Toronto as a free agent in July. “It could be either one,” Casey said.Delon Wright may see some minutes at the three because he’s a versatile young man. Bruno (Caboclo) gives you a standstill shooter.” The spot opened up when DeMarre Carroll was dealt to the Nets in July.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris will miss the start of training camp Tuesday until his trial on an aggravated assault charge in Arizona is resolved, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com reports. His brother, Wizards forward Markieff Morris, is also on trial on in the felony case. Marcus Morris was acquired by Boston this summer in the deal that sent guard Avery Bradley to the Pistons.  The Morris brothers face possible prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension if they are found guilty, Forsberg adds.
  • Sixers forward Robert Covington strikes an optimistic note that an agreement will be reached regarding an extension or renegotiation of his current contract, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Covington, who stands to make less than $1.6MM this season, is in the unusual position of being eligible for an extension or renegotiation. It can’t be finalized until November 15, the three-year anniversary of when Covington signed his current deal.
  • Power forward Kelly Olynyk never wanted to leave the Celtics, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe notes. The Celtics’ brass kept in touch with Olynyk during the Gordon Hayward free agent saga, Washburn adds. When Hayward agreed to join Boston, Olynyk’s rights were renounced to create cap space and he soon signed with the Heat.