Report: 76ers view Robert Covington as long-term piece rather than trade chip

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I have a theory Sam Hinkie is intentionally depriving the 76ers of quality 3-point shooters in an effort to tank.

Players like Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, K.J. McDaniels and Tony Wroten are talented enough to form a feisty squad that could win a decent number of games. They just can’t shoot, so Philadelphia’s floor spacing has been terrible, limiting the effectiveness of all the team’s top young players.

The 76ers have ranked last in the NBA in 3-point percentage this season and last year, also placing last in points per possession both seasons. It’s just too difficult to create a good offense without floor spacing.

Once Hinkie decides Philadelphia is ready to stop tanking and surge forward, I figure he’ll fill the gaps with strong outside shooting. Even a little would make this team dramatically better.

That process slowly gotten underway.

Robert Covington (39.2 percent) and Jerami Grant (35.1) are the team’s only players whose 3-point percentages are better than league average. The 76ers also score better with Covington (94.6 points per 100 possessions) or Grant (96.4) on the floor than they do with any of their other 10 players who’ve played at least 200 minutes.

Heck, Philadelphia didn’t even win a game until signing Covington, who’s averaging 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 27.2 minutes per game. He just fits.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

A few NBA teams have placed interest in Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington, but the 24-year-old sharpshooter has been made largely unavailable from trade inquiries as a core part of the franchise’s long-term plans, league sources told RealGM.

Covington’s salary – just over $1 million each season – is unguaranteed the next three years. Either he’ll pan out and present good value, or Philadelphia will just waive him at no cost.

Considering his play and other teams’ interest, there’s a good chance he pans out.

He’s not good enough to singlehandedly undermine the 76ers’ tanking – even though they’re 0-10 without him, they’re still just 8-23 with him – but he could definitely fit when the team is ready to win. Hinkie isn’t one to keep a player for sentimental reasons, but there’s a solid chance Philadelphia holds Covington in higher regard than any other team does, meaning a trade is unlikely.