Sun. Jan 19th, 2020

The Philadelphia 76ers are rumored to have an interest in re-acquiring an elite 3-and-D player before the NBA Trade Deadline.

Elton Brand has made some big moves during his short tenure as the Philadelphia 76ers general manager. The first being to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, now it’s rumored that Brand and the Sixers are interested in re-acquiring one of the players they used to get Butler in the first place, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

O’Connor listed several players that Philly was interested in, including a few that had already dawned on a 76ers uniform in the past, but one of the biggest names on the list was Robert Covington. He was probably the best player that Philly sent to Minnesota in the Butler trade.

Covington is an elite 3-and-D forward who’s had a positive impact with Minnesota. This season as the T-Wolves starting power forward, he’s averaging 12.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks, while converting 34.9 percent (career low) of his 3-pointers.

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Part of Covington’s shooting issues this season can be attribute to the lack of consistent playmaking on the Minnesota and his shift from small forward to power forward. For his career, Covington’s shot 35.9 percent from deep.

Covington’s 3-and-D skills would be welcomed on a 76ers team that needs more shooting. Philly has a good 3-point percentage compared to the rest of the league, but is near the bottom of the NBA in terms of attempts and makes. Covington’s average of 6.1 attempts and 2.1 makes from behind the arc would easily lead any of the Sixers current players.

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be easy for the 76ers to get him from Minnesota. Despite the T-Wolves struggling with the 15-22 record, Covington is still a core piece of their roster. It would have to take at least a veteran, a young prospect and a draft pick or two to get Minnesota to the bargaining table.

Below is a hypothetical trade that might be able to bring Covington back to Philly, (Sam Coltrane of The Sixer Sense, privately came up with the parameters for this trade and credit should go to him).

76ers Get

SF/PF, Robert Covington

Timberwolves Get

PF, Mike Scott

SG, Zhaire Smith

2020 protected first round pick, via OKC

The T-Wolves get a solid return for Covington. Mike Scott is a stretch four that would be a nice fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns, although Scott isn’t close to the defender that Covington is. Zhaire Smith fits the profile of the type of young athletic wings that the T-Wolves have selected in the past several drafts. He obviously has value for their long term future.

The pick the Timberwolves receive, via the Oklahoma City Thunder, is currently top-20 protected for the 2020 NBA Draft (per RealGM) and probably won’t convey this season as the Thunder are currently project to get the 18th pick in this upcoming draft. If it doesn’t convert, it still turns into two future second round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts, which certainly isn’t bad value as the Thunder are expected to be rebuilding at that point.

Re-acquiring Covington from the Wovles would give the Sixers another elite defender and solid floor spacer. He’d instantly become the premier sixth man of the 76ers. He would allow head coach Brett Brown to have different end of the game lineups if needed. Giving up Smith, a pick, and Scott is a price that Brand should be willing to pay.

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The Philadelphia 76ers need to make improvements to their roster before the NBA trade deadline and bringing back Covington to the “City of Brotherly Love” would certainly give the team a major boost.