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November 15, 2017

Sixers, Robert Covington agree to 4-year, $62 million contract extension

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One of the primary faces of "The Process" has finally received his big reward. On the first day he was eligible to renegotiate and extend his deal with the Sixers, Robert Covington has come to terms on a 4-year, $62 million extension to remain in Philadelphia through the 2021-22 season.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report on the negotiations.

While the deal is not finalized quite yet, details of the extension have started making their way to the public. A team source confirmed that Covington will receive a hefty bump in salary this year to go along with the long-term security provided by the agreement; Covington will be the recipient of the rest of Philadelphia's cap space this season, giving him an extra $15.1 million for the 2017-18 season.

That's a major gambit for Philadelphia in terms of what it does for their cap space moving forward. Because the $62 million figure includes the $15.1 million bump this season, Covington is effectively on a 4/47 deal once his extension kicks in*. With his cap figure hovering under $12 million a season, the Sixers now have one of their key contributors under team control for another four years, and plenty of flexibility with which to maneuver in the free agent marketplace.

*The exact figure after this year is more like $46.9 million, but for ease of interpretation, I'll refer to it as 4/47. This deal is also not yet finalized, so the exact numbers are not set in stone. Think of this as a pretty firm guideline, however.

As I've reported in the past, the Sixers have had their eyes set on 2018 free agency for quite some time. A desire to chase big free agents next summer was a driving force behind their decision to decline Jahlil Okafor's option in late October, and getting Covington on a below-market deal before he hit unrestricted free agency is another piece of that puzzle.

The path to maximum cap space this summer is now clearer than ever. Assuming the cap holds of JJ Redick, Amir Johnson, Jahlil Okafor, and Nik Stauskas are off the books next summer, the Sixers were heading into the offseason with roughly $60.1 million on the books between the rest of their rostered players. If we assume a $101 million salary cap for next season, they needed to keep $30.3 million open to chase a max free agent with 7-9 years of NBA service time, and a 4/47 deal for Covington does exactly that.

Compare Covington's 4/47 deal to some recent extensions signed by wings around the league, and it becomes clear this is a coup for the Sixers.

Team Player Contract
 Sixers Robert Covington 4 years, $47 million
 Wizards Otto Porter4 years, $106.5 million 
 Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr.4 years, $71 million 
 Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins 5 years, $146.5 million
SunsTJ Warren  4 years, $50 million


Many of those deals are for younger players with more theoretical upside than Covington, but the Sixers can expect to get equal or better production out of their guy at a much better price over the next few seasons. Covington has been the best volume three-point shooter in the entire NBA last season, and he's fresh off a defensive breakout that placed him fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting last year. He is an indispensable cog in the best five-man unit in the league right now, and his positional versatility is critical to building an elite team around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Don't be surprised if Covington has an early-termination option on the final year of his contract, because this is an extremely team-friendly deal. For that, Bryan Colangelo and his staff deserve credit, because the only way you get a steal like this is by laying the groundwork months ago. Team sources who spoke with Philly Voice this summer were adamant that Covington was all but locked up when conversations touched on the subject, and now that the deal is being finalized, it certainly looks like that was the case.

Congratulations to Covington, who has risen from an undrafted D-League player to a key piece of an exciting young team. The contract may be a steal for the franchise, but this is life-changing money for a guy who has put in the work to become one of the best three-and-D players in the league, and for a guy who suffered through the worst years of the rebuild, it's a more-than-fitting reward.

UPDATE: The Sixers announced on Friday afternoon that the renovation and extension of Covington's contract has gone official. In a press release provided by the team, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo praised Covington as a pillar of the Sixers' program.

"Robert Covington is a prime example of what hard work, dedication and commitment can lead to. 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," said Colanggeloi. "This is extension is both well-deserved, and a really great story."

A source who spoke with Philly Voice following the contract's completion provided the rough parameters for the deal. After recieving the $15.1 million dollar bump this season, Covington will be paid $10 million, $11 million, $12 million, and $13 million in the four extension years of his deal. That brings the total of the contract to over $61 million over the life of the deal, and over $46 million during the four years of the extension.

There will be no early-termination option in Covington's contract, per source.


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