Philadelphia 76ers: Robert Covington? Back in Philly? Yes please

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Signing Robert Covington to a four-year, $4.49 million contract in 2014 has to go down as one of the best values in Philadelphia 76ers history.

A 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward out of Tennessee State, Covington went unselected in the 2013 NBA Draft and ultimately signed a three-year, $2.25 million deal with Daryl Morey‘s Houston Rockets. While Covington only appeared in seven games for the Rockets as a rookie, he was a fixture of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and parlayed a 23.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game stat line into a spot on the then-D-League All-Star team.

Needless to say, this piqued the interest of Morey’s former right-hand man, Sam Hinkie, who signed Covington to the aforementioned four-year, $4.49 million contract about three weeks after he was waived by the Rockets heading into camp.

And from there, my friends, is history. Covington developed into a prototypical 3-and-D forward, Brett Brown’s favorite top-of-the-key defender, and an incredibly high-volume shooter for the Sixers, where he started 258 of the 297 games he appeared in before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves alongside Dario Saric for Jimmy Butler.

Was the move the right one? Oh heck yes; you do that deal every single time, even if it’s fleeting. With that being said, it sure would be nice to see RoCo rock a red, white, and blue 33 jersey again, if for no other reason than to bring back memories of Processes past.

If you fall into that camp as well, I may just have some good news for you: Robert Covington may just be on the table in a potential trade for Ben Simmons.

Robert Covington would be a fantastic fit back with the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Wednesday, September 22nd, ESPN’s Stephen A Smith let it slip that the Portland Trail Blazers had been talking to the Philadelphia 76ers about a trade package for Ben Simmons involving “CJ McCollum, they’re talking about Robert Covington, they’re talking about a couple (of) first-round picks.”

All-in-all, not too shabby.

While some will scoff at the idea of trading Simmons for anything other than an All-Star-caliber player – one of those people surely being Daryl Morey – securing a 23.1 points per game combo guard with a nasty 3 point shot, a 3-and-D combo forward who can help to replace Simmons defensively, and a could of first-round picks certainly isn’t the worst idea imaginable.

Considering Morey once traded Clint Capela, Gerald Green, and a 2020 first-round pick for Covington’s services, it could certainly get a whole lot worse.

Alright, so nostalgia aside, how would Covington fit back with his former club some three years later, give or take?

Like a darn glove.

Presumably re-inserted into the Sixers’ starting five at his old position, Covington would predominantly play roughly the same role he did from 2014-18. He’d cover the opposing team’s top forward option – which would be a serious boon for Tobias Harris – kick Danny Green to the bench to serve as a rotational 3-and-D’er, and presumably lead the team yet again in 3 point attempts per game, as he took 6.9 shots per game in his final full season with the team.

But wait, it gets better. Since spreading his 7-foot-2 wings(pan) and leaving the nest, Covington has started to spend increasing time at power forward and even as a super-small-ball center, a Morey invention that actually worked out fairly well for the Rockets in 2020.

Remember how the Sixers just couldn’t rotate in a reserve forward during their 2021 playoff run because Mike Scott’s game was too inconsistent, and Paul Reed never quite got into Doc Rivers’ good graces? Well, Covington could unquestionably fill that role and take some pressure off of Georges Niang to become a 24-plus minutes per game contributor on a full-time basis.

Does finally fielding a competent “death lineup” become less vital if Simmons is in a Portland uniform? Yes, but when Embiid is off the court, and the Sixers need to score at a high clip, having that card in Rivers’ back pocket is certainly better than not having it.

Throw that all together, and what do you have? A very intriguing addition who would unquestionably make the team better.

Next. Darius Garland could swing a trade for Ben Simmons. dark

In 2020-21, Daryl Morey preached the importance of landing professional, two-way players who don’t have to be cycled out in end-of-game scenarios. That’s why he traded multiple second-round picks for George Hill and why the team traded for Danny Green in the first place. While some will quibble with whether or not CJ McCollum is good enough to be the Philadelphia 76ers’ 1b to Joel Embiid’s 1a – read more about that here – throwing a player like Robert Covington into the mix in addition to picks would unquestionably make the team better right now and moving forward, even if it doesn’t have the same sort of pop that a name like Damion Lillard or Bradley Beal would generate.