Updated: Nov. 16, 2 a.m.
LOS ANGELES — Robert Covington’s payday is about to finally arrive.
Covington and the Sixers are finalizing the framework of a contract extension, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday night. There is no specific day yet for the finalization, per the source.
The deal will be four years, $62 million, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the terms.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Covington said after the Sixers’ 115-109 win over the Lakers (see observations). “I made sure that the main focus has been just coming out and playing hard. Even though people have kind of already talked about it and everything, it’s still not official yet because there are still certain things that have to be worked out. But the potential is there.
“I’m blessed to be here another four years. It’s an opportunity that I’ve been looking forward to. I developed here for four years and now I’m going to be here another four more.”
Over the past four years, Covington has transformed from a G-League hopeful to an impact two-way player in the NBA. He solidified a place in the Sixers’ starting lineup with his locked-in defense and three-point shooting abilities. Now he's a part of the team’s long-term plans.
“To be a part of it long term, I’m very fortunate to be a part of that because I’ve only made myself a better player here,” Covington said during ESPN's SportsCenter after the victory. “Coaches have helped me, my teammates have helped me. Now that everything is starting to come together, it’s a great feeling to be a part of.”
“There’s an inner confidence that he has that’s born out of, ‘I belong. This is my organization and I’m going to do whatever I can to help move it forward,’” Brett Brown said Tuesday. “And that he has. He’s just maturing before all of our eyes.”
Covington established himself as the Sixers’ defensive go-to and often is tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player. He ranks fifth in the league in deflections (3.5) and fourth among all small forwards in steals (1.62), while averaging 5.7 rebounds.
Covington is also first among small forwards in real plus-minus (4.46) and sixth in the entire league, behind only James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic and Al Horford, according to ESPN.com.
It’s the little things Brown notes on his “effort charts” that add up for Covington.
“He’s great defensively,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s what we call a ‘three-and-D’ player. He does his job, especially defensively, 1-on-1 situations, help defense. He’s a big part of this process and I’m glad to have him.”
Offensively, Covington is having his best season. He is one game removed from a career-high 31 points against the Clippers. Covington is posting 16.8 points per game. He is tied for fifth in the NBA with Chandler Parsons for three-point shooting (50.0 percent) and seventh among small forwards in field goal shooting (49.7 percent).
The player once booed on his homecourt for missing treys has become a consistent long-range scorer. He’s pushed forward with a mentality of “in one ear, out the other” where his confidence hasn’t wavered in spite of his struggles.
“It’s just about the evolution of my game,” Covington said. “Getting the opportunity to play is what really helped me.”
Just how far has Covington come in his career?
He went undrafted out of Tennessee State in 2013. That season, he signed with the Rockets and played 42 games for their G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Covington was named 2013-14 G-League Rookie of the Year but was waived by the Rockets on Oct. 27, 2014, after appearing in just one preseason game.
The Sixers signed him to a discounted deal three weeks later. It was a get at a bargain contract for former general manager Sam Hinkie, who had been eyeing Covington since the draft, he penned in his resignation letter. Covington entered this season as the fifth-lowest paid player on the team ($1,577,230), earning more than only T.J. McConnell, Richaun Holmes, Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.
Covington persevered through the ups and downs of the Sixers’ losing seasons. He took advantage of his chance to simply play basketball in the NBA and is turning it into a lucrative contract and a place in the Sixers’ future.
“It’s a fantastic journey that I’ve experienced with him,” Brown said. “I’m so proud of where he was compared to where he is.”