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March 07, 2017

Sixers Mailbag: Should Robert Covington get a contract extension?

I was admittedly a little bit tardy with this Sixers mailbag, but better late than never, right? Let’s not waste any more time and get into the questions, which range from Robert Covington extension possibilities to the best Joel Embiid highlights of the 2016-17 season.

These two questions are about the same subject, so let’s tackle them together with the help of Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ, a great resource.

The Sixers will definitely pick up the $1,577,230 option for 2017-18, the final year of Covington’s incredibly team-friendly contract. They can first offer an extension (technically, a renegotiation of the last year and simultaneous extension) three years after Covington signed, and RoCo’s first game for the team was November 17th, 2014. So, officially locking up Covington won’t be an option until the fall. That option is only afforded to teams under the salary cap, which as we all know, shouldn’t be a problem for the Sixers. There is also a deadline of March 1st, 2018 for this type of move.

I don’t know if the Sixers will renegotiate and extend Covington, but if they value him and plan on keeping him around, it makes sense to do just that. If they let RoCo hit free agency in the 2018 offseason, he will be unrestricted and free to go to the highest bidder or wherever he chooses. 

Covington’s metamorphosis from three-point specialist to versatile wing defender has been impressive (even if we’d like to see a tad better than 33 percent three-point shooting), and Brett Brown clearly trusts him. At 26 years old, he’s a player who will command a significant raise from the relative peanuts he’s currently making.

Moving on from Noel and what could have been a $20 million per year investment obviously does clear future cap space for “Rock,” if the front office chooses to go in that direction. With the Sixers thinner on the wing than in the frontcourt, where at least Richaun Holmes shows some potential in backup role, I would try to make sure Covington doesn’t hit free agency. We’ll see how the front office approaches that situation in the fall.

My first thought here is that the Sixers should want the pick to convey this season. The Lakers are losing their way to the second-worst record in the NBA, which means a 55.8 percent chance that their pick will land in the Top-3. With a strong top tier in this draft, the Sixers would likely get the fourth pick (31% chance) if it does drop out of the protected range. That’s Jonathan Isaac, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina and perhaps Lonzo Ball territory.

That said, Los Angeles doesn’t appear to be a quick turnaround candidate. The Lakers, thanks to disastrous contracts handed out to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov last summer, already have $70 million committed for 2017-18 with a projected $102 million salary cap (not counting their potential Top-3 pick’s salary and Nick Young’s player option). With one major exception*, it’s hard to see them landing any difference-making free agent in 2017.

Since December 1st, the Lakers have been the worst team in the league and most of that happened while Lou Williams was lighting it up off the bench for them. Oh yeah, there’s also the matter of the soap opera going on inside the Buss family. You never know, but I would be surprised if they’re anything but a bad team again in 2017-18.

*Paul George is the major elephant in the room, but if he’s so interested in playing for the Lakers, why give up anything for him when you can just wait a year until he hits free agency? Also, Indiana has the chance to offer George way more money than anyone else if he makes an All-NBA team via the new designated player exception.

I still need to watch more of pretty much everyone in this draft class, but from reading, it seems to me like Simmons would probably be drafted first or second this year.

This question, from our awesome soccer writer, initially takes me to thinking about the perception of the Sixers. Perception, more than any other factor, feels like the reason Hinkie isn’t calling the shots now 11 months after he resigned. Besides believing that Hinkie did a good job, I wish that he got the chance to finish what he started because such a heated debate both locally and nationally is now neverending. Roughly, you get this now…

•    Process Hater: Look at Colangelo cleaning up Hinkie’s mess!
•    Process Truster: Look at Colangelo messing up everything Hinkie did!

Overall, I do think The Process is greater than one man, even if he was the architect. For example, I imagine Hinkie would’ve made moves similar to Colangelo in terms of adding short-term help in the backcourt this season. Maybe not the same exact ones as Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, and Sergio Rodriguez, but the Sixers weren’t going to hoard second-round picks and non-guaranteed contracts forever. Hinkie also would’ve been forced to deal with the frontcourt logjam, in some form or another.

Joel Embiid is The Process, as is Ben Simmons, as is Dario Saric, Robert Covington, the Lakers pick, the Kings pick, Richaun Holmes, T.J. McConnell, etc. There is understandably a tendency to focus on the executive, but as long as the Sixers are moving forward with this group of core players and picks, I still view The Process as ongoing.

Fun one to finish on, and I’ll stick to my personal favorite on-court moments/games…

5. The back-and-forth with DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento in December.

4. The aforementioned greatest goaltend ever — How did the backboard not shatter? — in addition to two more blocks on LeBron that night. Embiid was 4-4 from three in this game, as well.

3. After diving into the stands head-first (which should be a $10,000 fine moving forward), Embiid hung 33, 10, 3, and 2 against Brooklyn.

2. Opening night against Oklahoma City, when the Sixers were  already running plays for Embiid in crunch time and he was scoring easily. We all knew about his talent, but this was the first sign of Embiid producing right away.

1. The game ended poorly, but I’ll go with putting Nene on a poster in his last game of the season. The crowd was so amped up that night, and on the first play of the game, he dunks on a 6’11” dude left-handed. Ridiculous.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann