Robert Covington seeking to expand game beyond 3-point shooting

Robert Covington seeking to expand game beyond 3-point shooting

Robert Covington led the Sixers in three-point attempts the past two seasons. That most likely will change, not just because of the additions of guards JJ Redick and Markelle Fultz.

This summer, Covington has been expanding his offensive game as he enters his fifth NBA season. 

“I’ve been working on a lot more stuff off the dribble, a lot of different finishes, different floaters, different ways to get to the basket,” Covington said last week at the Sixers’ Summer Shore Tour in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. “[I’ve been working on] creating also because I know a lot of people know I can shoot already, but I have to broaden aspects of my game.”

Covington shot 33.3 percent from three off 6.1 attempts per game. He took 413 shots from long range compared to 210 at the rim, according to BasketballReference.com

The small forward’s outside looks will be dispersed with his new teammates. The Sixers invested $23 million in Redick to be a sharpshooter, among other roles. Last season, Redick attempted 468 treys, tied for 14th in the league with Kyle Lowry. 

Covington is on board with changing up his shots to fit into the Sixers' system.

“The core is going to be dynamic because it’s so versatile,” he said. “There’s so many skill sets that a number of guys can play different positions. We have that chemistry, that grit, that fight in us. Guys want to make us get better. The intensity of everything is going to be heightened this year because of the guys we have."

Covington and Joel Embiid likely will be the only two starters that carry over from last season. Fultz, Redick and Ben Simmons are likely to round out the starting five, with the 6-foot-10 Simmons taking on point guard responsibilities.

“It’s going to be very good for us because we’re going to be able to switch a lot,” Covington said. “It’s going to make us that much more versatile, that much more deadly as a team. Then we’re going to have depth, guys on the bench that can come in and do the same thing. To have people that come in and fill that void that we have, there won’t be much letdown.”

Covington’s first three seasons with the Sixers were about rebuilding and trying to build a foundation amid injuries. That includes Covington, who underwent surgery in April to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. He said he “absolutely” will be ready for training camp in late September. Feeling healthy on a revamped roster, Covington finally can look ahead beyond the regular season. 

“It’s thrilling because we've got that same expectation [as the fans to make the playoffs],” he said. “The way things are opening up, opportunity is definitely there. It’s just a matter of us seizing it."

Sixers sign Jonah Bolden to 4-year contract, trade Richaun Holmes to Suns

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Sixers sign Jonah Bolden to 4-year contract, trade Richaun Holmes to Suns

The Sixers are not quite done making moves this offseason.

The team on Friday sent big man Richaun Holmes to the Suns for cash considerations and signed 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden to a four-year deal, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the trade and Bolden's signing.

With these moves, the Sixers’ roster remains at 15 players, but that could change if the team finds a way to rid themselves of Jerryd Bayless’ contract — say, in a trade with Cleveland (see story).

The writing has been on the wall for Holmes. Now entering his fourth year, the 2015 second-round pick struggled to find a role in Brett Brown’s rotation last season with a healthy Joel Embiid and veteran Amir Johnson in the fold. While he offered energy, athleticism and weakside rim protection off the bench, Holmes lacked discipline defensively, something Brown hasn’t tolerated during his tenure.

Bolden will essentially take Holmes’ spot on the roster as a developmental big. With quicker feet defensively, Bolden has more versatility to guard fours. While his summer league performance was underwhelming offensively, Bolden did impress defensively, especially against No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton. It’s important to note that the third and fourth years of Bolden’s deal are not guaranteed, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

Drafted by the Sixers out of Bowling Green State, Holmes flashed at times but was only able to get into 48 games this season, averaging 15.5 minutes a contest. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 156 career games with the Sixers.

A native Australian, Bolden attended UCLA for one year before heading overseas to play for FMP Beograd of the Adriatic League. As a draft and stash this past season, Bolden played for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and tested his skills in the EuroLeague. He averaged 7.2 points and six rebounds in 20.8 minutes a game. He’s shown flashes of a jump shot but shot just 31 percent from three this season abroad and 24 percent in summer league action.

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Sixers' reported interest in Kyle Korver trade may be way out of Jerryd Bayless' contract

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Sixers' reported interest in Kyle Korver trade may be way out of Jerryd Bayless' contract

The Sixers have been searching for a way to end their partnership with Jerryd Bayless for some time now. And while a resolution may finally be coming into shape, it’s far from a sure thing.

The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey first reported Thursday that the Sixers have had discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers about a trade involving Bayless and Kyle Korver.

However, The New York Times’ Marc Stein added Friday that while a potential deal involving the two sides is “possible” it’s also “far from certain.” 

Bayless has one year remaining on his contract at $8.57 million. 

Korver has two years left on his deal for $7.56 million in 2018-19 and $7.5 million the following season. Of that 2019-20 salary, only $3.44 million is guaranteed if Korver remains on the team after July 7, 2019. The money becomes fully guaranteed after that point. 

Any deal for the Cavaliers to take on Bayless would likely also involve a draft pick going back to Cleveland. The Sixers currently have control of most of their own assets, including six total second-round selections in the next two drafts.

Korver, who spent the first four-plus years of his career with the Sixers, is still getting it done in the NBA at 37 years old. The veteran sharpshooter played in 73 games regular-season games last season for the Cavs and averaged 9.2 points a night on 43.6 percent three-point shooting (sixth-best in the NBA).

Meanwhile, Bayless fell out of the rotation in Year 2 of his three-year, $27 million contract with the Sixers. The 29-year-old guard was a DNP-CD for 39 of the Sixers’ final 40 games, including playoffs, with the lone appearance being a showing for 1:44 in the team’s Game 1 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In all, Bayless played in just 39 contests and averaged 7.9 points (41.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.0 percent shooting from three-point range).

“It wasn’t easy,” Bayless said during exit interviews of his diminished role as the season went on. “This whole year from an individual standpoint wasn’t the easiest. But, at the same time, when you’re around a group of guys that we had and the success that we had, it made it easier. 

“I’m really grateful that I was able to be a part of this organization this year. We’ll see what happens moving forward.”

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