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Sixers Shake Up NBA By Reacquiring Robert Covington

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 7: Robert Covington #33 of the Philadelphia 76ers encourages the crowd to get loud against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2018 NBA Playoff at Wells Fargo Center on May 7, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

They said it’d never happen. The Sixers traded away Robert Covington in November 2018 as part of a package for Jimmy Butler, and ever since, Philadelphia fans have been itching for his return. But the naysayers told us it was a dream we could not achieve. Robert Covington would never return to Philadelphia. Well, well, well. The “unthinkable” has happened. The haters have been silenced. Robert Covington is back in Philadelphia.

Covington returns as part of the James Harden trade. Late Monday night, per Woj, the Rockets Clippers agreed to trade Covington, Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 first-round pick, and a 2029 pick swap for Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrusev. Sad as it will be for Sixers fans to see Petrusev leave so soon after playing his first three minutes for the team on Sunday night, getting Covington back was just too much of an opportunity to pass up.

Don’t let the media fool you. Covington is the centerpiece of this blockbuster, with the Sixers getting a guy who was always great at hyping up the crowd. The Sixers have been looking for a 3-and-D specialist since the introduction of the three-point line to the NBA, and Covington was once that guy. From 2014-15 to his trade in 2018, Covington shot 6.6 threes a game and made 36 percent of them. This wasn’t exactly pinpoint shooting accuracy, but he was often playing alongside other young guys, old players the Sixers took on for second-round picks, and 17 games of 36-year-old Elton Brand.

Fans loved Covington so much a group of them flew to Minnesota to reunite the “Process Core Four.” (The others in the foursome were Dario Šarić, also sent to the Wolves in the Butler deal, plus Joel Embiid and T.J. McConnell.) The fans will no doubt blow the roof off when Covington checks into a home game for the first time. Can the structural integrity of the arena even hold when such a cheer goes up?

It will be different now. Covington is 33. He was acquired by the Clippers in February 2022, and averaged just 16 minutes in 48 games last season. He played just 12 minutes total in the playoffs. But no matter. Covington is back with the Sixers, and all is right with the world.

The Sixers waived another team legend, Danny Green, as part of the Harden trade. Perhaps he will be back one day, too.

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