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June 14, 2017

Sixers pick up forward Robert Covington's 2017-18 option

 Robert Covington started each of the 67 Sixers games in which he appeared last season, averaging 12.9 points (on 48 percent from the floor; 33 pct. from three), 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals, a block. And while his status as a starter is very much in jeopardy with return of Ben Simmons and the pending addition of yet another high lottery pick, Covington still fills an important role for the Sixers.

Because of that, he'll be back in the fold this season after the Sixers announced they have exercised the 2017-18 team option on his contract. With his price tag at a comfortable $1.577 million, it was a no-brainer.

After a rough start to the year in which Covington looked like he suddenly forgot how to shoot, the 26-year-old rebounded nicely and by the end of the season, he had won back many fans, his coach included.

“Look at Robert Covington come from this wild jack-it-up street ball of just throwing up long threes into a legitimate two-way player that is fourth in the NBA in deflections and is fourth in defensive effectiveness while he’s on the floor and legitimately growing into a two-way player,” Brett Brown said at the conclusion of his fourth season as the Sixers coach.

Since Brown employs a "Defense-Pace-Space" philosophy, it's no surprise he's high on Covington. Earlier this offseason, Rich Hofmann ranked the Sixers roster according to Brown's criteria; "Rock" came in second behind only Joel Embiid. He also listed Covington's defensive improvement as one of his 10 ways in which the Sixers season was a success.

Covington, who underwent season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery, led the team in minutes per game last season (31.6) and could be in line for a bigger extension before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. 

“Certainly something I think that we want to address,” Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo said back in April when asked about the possibility of locking Covington up long term. “There is some flexibility in the new CBA that allows us to make a more concerted attempt toward that [a contract extension]. But given the fact that I cannot talk about any free-agent-related things, including your own players, I should probably pass on the question today, but Robert Covington is a valued piece of this organization, he’s really evolved into a player that we want to make part of this organization on a longer-term basis.”

That's likely going to cost the Sixers quite a bit more than what they're currently paying RoCo, but they seem to (correctly) value what he brings to the court even on the nights when he isn't shooting well. 

Of course, they'll want to see how he fits alongside Simmons and whoever they add next Thursday night first, but the Sixers took the first step toward making Covington a core part of their rotation going forward.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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