Robert Covington

2020 NBA trade deadline: A Robert Covington reunion with the Sixers won't happen

2020 NBA trade deadline: A Robert Covington reunion with the Sixers won't happen

It looks like there won’t be a Robert Covington-Sixers reunion at this year’s trade deadline.

The veteran wing is reportedly headed back to where his NBA career started in Houston as part of a complex four-team deal.

The 29-year-old was linked to the Sixers in a couple different reports. He wouldn’t have been able to help the team’s issues with shot creation and he’s shooting below league average from three this season, but he’s still a deflections machine and super switchable defender.

He’s also on a fairly reasonable contract (four years, $46.8 million) that he signed with the Sixers that kicked in at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. The Rockets are giving up a similarly affordable player in Capela. 

The return Minnesota gets in Beasley and a first-round pick is likely more attractive than anything the Sixers could’ve offered. This could be the biggest obstacle GM Elton Brand faces in seeking an upgrade. They’ve reportedly already missed out on a potential trade target in Luke Kennard. Similarly, the Pistons’ return in that deal is likely better than what the Sixers have.

Brand and the Sixers have until Thursday at 3 p.m. to get a deal(s) done.

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NBA trade rumors: Robert Covington still linked to Sixers, but asking price is 'ambitious'

NBA trade rumors: Robert Covington still linked to Sixers, but asking price is 'ambitious'

In the final days leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, Robert Covington is reportedly a popular name.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Covington is "as good a bet as any high-wattage player to move this week.”

Most Sixers fans don’t require much background on Covington, who played 297 games with the Sixers before being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. 

The 29-year-old is close to the dictionary definition of a 3-and-D player. He’s 10th in steals per game this season and seventh in total deflections, and he’s hitting 34.7 percent of his threes — a touch below his career average — on 6.4 attempts per game. 

Though half-court shot creation has been an issue for the Sixers, it’s clear why they would desire more shooting. They’re currently 20th in three-point percentage (34.9 percent) and 23rd in three-point attempts per game (30.9). 

On Jan. 9, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Sixers had “inquired about Covington,” but said that “Minnesota could have so many bidders for Covington that the price will be too high for Philadelphia to make a reunion a reality.”

The current asking price, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, is indeed rather high.

Two first-round picks would certainly be a lot for the Sixers to send Minnesota, in addition to the players they’d need to give the Timberwolves to match Covington’s salary. Covington is making $11.3 million this season and is under contract for the next two years, as well.

Of course, it’s very possible the Timberwolves shift their stance or would want something else from the Sixers. The earliest first-round pick the Sixers can trade is their 2022 selection, though they do own a heap of second-round picks.

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2020 NBA trade rumors: 8 Sixers trade targets with NBA scouts' analysis

2020 NBA trade rumors: 8 Sixers trade targets with NBA scouts' analysis

With the trade deadline looming Thursday at 3 p.m., we spoke with multiple NBA scouts who gave their takes on a few of the players the Sixers have been linked to. 

Below is a composite ranking of those players and insight into how’d they fit.

1. Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons

The 2011 NBA MVP is having one of his best and heathiest seasons in years. He’s leading the Pistons in scoring (18.9 points per game) and assists (5.9). He’s also on pace to play in his most games since 2016-17.

While his three-point shooting won’t help this team much (31.8 percent), his ability to create off the dribble would represent a skill the Sixers lack. That’s a big part of the reason he’s No. 1 on this list.

Scouts’ take: “Not a three-point shooter, but just word one word: dynamic. And his current numbers speak for themselves, especially with his history. This guy at one point was the best player in this league.”

Our take: The price tag appears to be awfully high as the Pistons are reportedly asking for a lottery pick. That could be tricky considering most contending teams that would be in the bidding for Rose don’t possess one. Detroit does have leverage in that Rose still has another year left after this season on a reasonable contract.

2. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings

The 28-year-old is having a strong season at a good time. If the Kings trade Bogdanovic, it wouldn't be because he can’t play. It would simply be because they can’t afford the pending restricted free agent. He’s averaging 14.6 points a game and is shooting 37.5 percent from three.

Like Rose, Bogdanovic’s ability to create his own shot would help this team a whole lot. Also, like Rose, he won’t come cheap.

Scouts’ take: “Athletic, can score and can shoot the three as well. Would be a terrific fit. Certainly an upgrade over anything that's on that bench right now, but the price would be very steep.”

Our take: The Kings may have even less incentive to trade Bogdanovic than the Pistons do Rose. Sacramento has been banged up this season and its playoff hopes are sort of still alive. Even if this season is a wash, they can match any deal thrown at Bogdanovic this summer. I’m not sure the Sixers can offer enough to make Sacramento budge.

3. Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards

The “Latvian Laser” has become one of the most prolific shooters in the NBA. Bertans is eighth in the league in attempts per game (8.5) but is making the fourth most (3.6) and shooting at a ridiculous 42.2 percent clip.

The Sixers have had floor spacing issues all season. It’s hard to imagine the 27-year-old wouldn’t have a significant positive impact in that category. While his shooting is his biggest appeal, it seems like it wouldn't be as easy to target Bertans in the playoffs defensively as perhaps it was with JJ Redick.

Scouts’ take: “Not a great athlete, but he tries on D. He works at it. He's a four all the way, unlike Bogdanovic, who's more a smaller wing kind of player. But Bertans is a hard-nosed Euro.”

Our take: Bertans would be No. 1 on my list. The Sixers are just 21st in three-point percentage and 23rd in terms of attempts. The only playoff teams that are lower percentage wise are the Nets and Magic. They need to take and make more threes. This is the guy that can do that. He also won’t be cheap, but he’s worth any non-starter (not named Matisse Thybulle) and then some.

4. Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons

The Sixers need shooting and scoring. Kennard could provide both. He’s averaging 15.8 points and shooting just a tick below 40 percent from three this season. He’s also a decent playmaker, averaging 4.1 assists.

Though he’s far from an explosive athlete, he’s more than just a spot-up shooter. He’s crafty and does well as a ball handler in the pick-and-roll. Defense would seem to be a concern, but he may be passable as a team defender.

Scouts’ take: “A poor man's [Manu] Ginobili. The fact that they're both lefties maybe influences my opinion a bit, but he can score and he'll make plays. … I don't think you're going to sit him down because you're so dissatisfied with his defense.”

Our take: It didn’t seem likely the Pistons would trade Kennard, but as the deadline draws closer, it appears he could be available. The biggest concern is that Kennard hasn't played since Dec. 21. He’s been battling bilateral knee tendinitis that has been bothering him since the summer. He's not Ginobili, but if he’s fully healthy, he could be a difference maker offensively.

5. Robert Covington, Minnesota Timberwolves

A man that needs no introduction, Covington is still doing Covington things in Minnesota. He’s racking up a ton of deflections and taking a ton of threes. He’s the type of 3-and-D player most contending teams are looking for.

While Covington is still a dangerous and switchable defender, his three-point percentage this season (34.7) is below his career mark (35.9). The hope would be that going to a better team would provide cleaner looks.

Scouts’ take: “I like Covington. … He's average [from three this season]. But he is a very versatile defender, one through four. And that's a big deal in the Sixers' scheme. The fact that he's been here, they know him, is a plus for them.”

Our take: Covington wouldn’t be the elite shooter or scorer this team needs but adding him to the Sixers’ rotation could create scary switchable defensive lineups. Imagine being able to bring out Covington and Thybulle as your first two subs. He wouldn’t be on the top of my list, but Covington would be a strong addition on an affordable contract.

6. Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets

Beasley is intriguing. He’s just 22 and has played sparingly for the Nuggets with their surplus of guards. He’s suffered a recent cold streak which came at an unfortunate time with lead guard Jamal Murray out. Denver offered him an extension this offseason that he reportedly turned down.

Beasley is a shooter, scorer and strong athlete. He’s also an able and willing defender.

Scouts’ take: “He can really score. He probably is as good a scorer as I'd say anybody on this list with the exception of Derrick Rose. And he scores in a lot of ways. He's not a playmaker, but he's a pretty decent defender.”

Our take: When Beasley has gotten his opportunities he’s flashed, but he's not been consistent enough to stay in Denver’s deep rotation. Could a change in scenery/knowing his role help? Might the Nuggets look to use him in a bigger move? Depending on the price, he could be worth a shot here.

7. Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons

Another name on this list that should look familiar to Philly hoop fans, Galloway spent his college days on Hawk Hill playing for Saint Joseph’s. The 28-year-old is enjoying a fine season in Detroit. He’s shooting 39.8 percent from three.

He may not represent much of an upgrade over what you have. 

Scouts’ take: “I'd say if you got Galloway, you would do so because of his three-point shooting and you would hope that at this moment, he's an upgrade over Korkmaz. … At this stage, right where we sit right now, I think I would [stick with Korkmaz]. I think Korkmaz has earned it.”

Our take: For what you’d have to give up to afford Galloway — he’s making $7.3 million on the final year of his deal — it doesn’t seem worth it. If he winds up being bought out by Detroit, he could be worth a look.

8. Alec Burks, Golden State Warriors

Burks is enjoying a career renaissance at the age of 28. The Warriors signed him for depth, but with the litany of injuries they’ve suffered, Burks has had a major role. He’s behind only D’Angelo Russell and Stephen Curry — who’s played four games — for the team lead in scoring at 15.8 points a game.

Burks is a three-level scorer. He’s a decent three-point shooter (36.9 percent), is good in the midrange and can finish. He also draws fouls. His 4.6 free throw attempts a game would only trail Embiid and Simmons on the Sixers. Of course, he’s not without his flaws.

Scouts’ take: “He's a versatile offensive player and mediocre defender. Health issues have been a concern. ... I like the player a bit but again, is he enough of an upgrade and do the health concerns kind of dissuade you?”

Our take: I’d have him higher on the list. The defense isn’t great, but it’s passable. As for the health concerns, he missed the first three games of the season but hasn’t missed one since. Since he’s on an expiring contract, the price shouldn’t be exorbitant. If you snag one of the top guys, you could possibly have enough to still acquire Burks.

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