Philadelphia 76ers: Is Wilson Chandler Robert Covington’s Plan B?

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Did the Philadelphia 76ers trade for Wilson Chandler to challenge Robert Covington for playing time, or replace him altogether?

Less than nine months after signing a massive four-year, $62 million extension to stay in the City of Brotherly Love until 2022, Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington‘s future with the team is far from certain.

Now don’t get me wrong, Covington is still a great player, as he finished out the 2017-2018 season as the best defensive small forward in the league, earning a first-team All-Defense nod in the process, but after struggling in the postseason, and the team’s increasingly unlikely search for a star, the fifth year forward has quickly found his position with the team in flux going into the very important 2018-2019 NBA season. With the second largest cap hit of any player on the roster, behind only Joel Embiid, if Philly were to execute a monster trade for a max-level star, Covington essentially has to be included in the deal to make a move happen money wise.

Who saw that coming?

More from Philadelphia 76ers

As one of the two pieces reportedly being dangled as trade bait alongside his frontcourt mate Dario Saric in many trade scenarios, as the team desperately searches for a star wing to #CompleteTheProcess, Covington could very well find himself on a new team next season. And even if he does find a way to stick around, who knows what role Covington will have moving forward?

With some pundits, fans, and casual viewers alike questioning his fit as a long-term starter, especially if Philly adds even more talent, RoCo may find himself sitting behind an All-Star caliber player sooner, rather than later.

Want more proof that Philly is all in on acquiring a star? Look no further than the team’s recent trade acquisition, Wilson Chandler.

After starting 234 of a possible 285 games over his last four seasons as a member of the Denver Nuggets, Chandler has proven himself as a legitimate 3-and-D wingman in the NBA, and he’s being paid like one too. Currently in line to make almost $13 million this season, Chandler wouldn’t be out of place in most starting lineups across the NBA at either forward position.

So, why would the 76ers trade the vast majority of their free cap space for a starting caliber forward, one with a very similar skillset to their incumbent starter, only to relegate him to a bench role?

Maybe they didn’t.

Related Story: Furkan Korkmaz lit up Las Vegas

If, by some miracle, the 76ers are able to actually put it all together and land a star like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler, presumably giving up Covington and Saric to make the deal happen, Chandler could easily slide right into the Sixers’ starting five and meld incredibly well with the team’s position-flexible way of playing. Though he may not be able to keep up with the league’s faster guards, a challenge that also plagued Cov last season if Chandler were to be paired up with a defensive stud like Butler or Leonard, that minor deficiency could be easily masked. This, when coupled with plenty of open three-point opportunities on the wings, could allow Philly to move on from arguably their best defensive player, and actually get better in the process.

And if a deal doesn’t come together, don’t be surprised if Chandler still challenges Covington for the 76ers’ starting small forward spot.

After watching RoCo struggle mightily in the playoffs due to ineffective defense, which, when coupled with his incredibly streaky three-point shooting creates a lethal combo, Chandler could provide Brett Brown and company with a cool, calm, and collected pro to pair with Embiid, Saric, and Ben Simmons in the starting five. While no one wants to explicitly ship Covington out of town, as his defense is without a doubt an incredible asset that many teams would love to have, his hot-and-cold nature can at times hurt more than it helps. Though Chandler may never again reach Covington’s peaks, he also will likely avoid his cavernous valleys. That consistently and steadiness could be a major boon for a young team often running on nerves.

Next: Zhaire Smith could be the next Vince Carter

While only time will tell who ends up in a Philadelphia 76ers jersey this fall, don’t be shocked to see Wilson Chandler competing for a shot at one of the team’s starting forward positions, regardless of where Robert Covington ends up.