With the Clippers’ 2022 offseason more or less over, it’s time to start reviewing their summer and handing out grades. First up, an assessment of the Clippers’ extension of forward Robert Covington.
Lucas Hann: B
I like the Robert Covington extension, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself giving out A after A to all of these new deals. Let’s look at it from a pessimistic perspective: RoCo was having a down year in Portland, and the word “washed” was even thrown around. Then, he got traded to LAC and had a renaissance… while shooting 45% from three, a massive outlier based on his career numbers. Defensively, while his back-line rotations were elite, he struggled to stay in front of anyone when guarding the ball. If he’s shooting 34% from three, as he did in his 48 games with Portland last year, or 36%, as he has over 537 career games, his value drops quite a bit from what he gave the Clippers in those 23 games last season.
There’s also the element that this contract–keeping long-term a third veteran PF over the age of 30–represents a commitment to heavy doses of smallball next season, opening up an element of downside if that gamble doesn’t pay off, even if Covington is individually solid. I think that the 2/24 is still a fine number for that gamble though. It’s probably more than Covington could have gotten on the open market (where he would have almost certainly been capped at the non-taxpayer mid-level exception), but it’s the smallest number the Clippers could give him under extension rules, and locking him in without worrying about his free agency was a prudent move. So, it’s solid-but-not-great value on a good player who is probably being a bit overrated due to unsustainable shooting numbers in a small sample with LAC last year… a B feels right.
Shapan Debnath: B+
Covington was sort of found money in the Norm Powell deal: there was an idea of what RoCo was but sort of concern for his possible decline. Well, what he was was a damn steal last year, going 50/45/85 as a Clipper with incredible help defense and looking like a definitive wingstop member. Now, could RoCo slip more to his career 36% from three and make you wish Marcus Morris was the one catching passes in the corner at times? Will he sometimes get targeted off switches because while his backline instincts are great, his footspeed isn’t the best? I do think there are some quiet concerns paying like that for a guy that just fit like a glove for an injury plagued team, but on the surface it’s hard to complain about nailing down another asset and possible cog to the team out of what initially seemed like a throw in. If RoCo can continue to make his threes close to last year’s rate, he might be an invaluable piece of Ty Lue’s small ball heavy playoff rotation.
Ralston Dacanay: A-
Back on May 5, my instant reaction to seeing the RoCo-Woj bomb was that the 2/24 extension was A+-level business from the front office. However, as Lucas alluded to, seeing how dry free agency has ended up turning out does feel like there wasn’t really much of a threat of him leaving. Additionally, I didn’t foresee Lawrence Frank and co. seemingly being content riding it out with Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, and Covington all handling reserve-five duties with regularity. As such, how RoCo plays into the “wingstop” small-ball equation with Mook and Batum, as well as how he continues to shoot from three, will be more important themes to keep track of than I once thought. Nonetheless, keeping Covington and his lightning-fast hands from ultimately going to a rival contender, as well as the sheer prospect of the potential lineups that Ty Lue could cook up with him, still makes this a great move in my book.
David Mendez-Yapkowitz: A-
Keeping Covington was a no-brainer. He’s a big reason why the Clippers are able to have so much lineup versatility. He fit in well after the trade with Portland and he played both forward positions and even a little small ball center. He’s been known as a 3&D player and for the most part he filled that role with the Clippers. Sure, there may have been some concerns due to his numbers taking a hit in Portland, and his play with the Clippers was a small sample size. But if he can keep up his numbers anywhere close to last season, he makes the Clippers that much better.
Robert Flom: A-
I’m under no allusions that RoCo will shoot 45% from three next year. I also don’t care. His career average of 36%, especially on the volume with which he takes threes, is plenty valuable for a player as excellent as he is defensively. He’s not a stopper, but individual defense is always overrated in the NBA. Additionally, he’s a much better rebounder than Nic Batum or Marcus Morris, which helps with small-ball lineups. He’s a great fit and a good player at a position of need.
I don’t agree with the Clippers’ seeming decision to play small-ball with their reserves. I think that it will wear down their forwards, who are all past 30, and that big men are plenty valuable. That said, I won’t grade this deal on the Clippers’ bigger picture decision. And, maybe RoCo doesn’t get 2/24 on the open market, but Bruce Brown got a 2/13, and RoCo is a much, much better shooter and bigger defender than Brown. It’s perhaps a slight overpay, but if anyone in the NBA can afford it, it’s Steve Ballmer.
Erik Olsgaard: B+
Coming into last season, I had no idea who Robert Covington really was. I mean, I obviously knew who he was, but I thought he was a tweener big that could play small ball C because he was long enough to sort of protect the rim, and an okay but not great three point shooter. I had no idea he was a deflection GOD, with the best hands on the passing lane since Andre Iguodala. Maybe his previous teams weren’t built in a way that let him gamble defensively, or maybe I just didn’t notice. Either way, Robert Covington is going to have a direct impact as soon as he steps on the court with the fully realized and healthy 2022-23 squad, and on a pretty reasonable contract extension, I can’t complain one bit.
Leave your thoughts on the Robert Covington extension below!