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.