Robert Covington is considered a big part of the 76ers’ present. Whether the 6-foot-9 forward remains with the team past this season is one of the unknown questions as the Sixers begin training camp on Tuesday.
In June, the Sixers exercised their team option on the final year of Covington’s deal in which he will make $1.57 million. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer if the Sixers don’t extend his contract.
Covington has been with the Sixers since Nov. 15, 2014, when he was signed while playing for the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Development League.
In November, on the three-year anniversary of his first contract signing, Covington and the Sixers will be able to rework his salary within the framework of a multiyear extension.
When asked if he was confident a deal could get done with the Sixers, Covington, who turns 27 in December, said he was.
“We definitely have been in talks with everything,” Covington said Monday during the Sixers’ media day at their practice facility in Camden. “Both side are very open to what is going on and it is a matter of the right move that is going to be made.”
Covington said he would like to remain with the team but conceded that nothing is certain.
“Being part of everything that transpired in the past years, you definitely want to be part of that,” he said. “A lot of things are transitioning, but it is a business, and you definitely don’t know how things will pan out.”
Covington says his health is good after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee on April 18. He hurt the knee March 28 against the Brooklyn Nets, his final game of the season.
“I got cleared in July but I didn’t play five-on-five until I came here [this month] because they wanted to monitor things and see how my adjustment would be here, and there were no complications, no problems,” Covington said.
How important is Covington as the Sixers look to improve on a 28-54 season and seek their first postseason appearance since 2012?
Covington averaged 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds and shot 33 percent from beyond the arc in 67 games last season, but it was his defense where he really stood out. He was fourth in the NBA in steals, averaging 1.9 per game. He received two first-place votes for the NBA all-defensive team. Covington has the ability to defend small and power forwards alike.
Even with all the additions the Sixers have made, coach Brett Brown said last week that he envisions Covington remaining a key component.
“I do see him being an essential part of the starting lineup,” Brown said. “I see him, as we speak, being an essential part of an ending lineup.”