The Philadelphia 76ers, freed from the confines of their tank, are above .500 a month into the season. There are two (literally) huge reasons for this: Obvious NBA All-Star Joel Embiid and obvious Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons. Embiid has been every bit as dominant as you’d expect based on the 31 games of magic we witnessed last season. Simmons has been a revelation as a 6’10 point guard with elite court vision and superb skills. This has the potential to be a modern Shaq and Penny. Those Magic teams were incredible while they lasted.
But there’s another huge story in Philadelphia fueling this rise from the self-created ashes: It is the miracle of Robert Covington.
The Sixers reportedly reached a contract extension with Covington on Wednesday. The deal will boost Covington’s 2017-18 salary by $15 million using the team’s leftover cap space, and pay the wing $10-12 million in each of the next three seasons, reports The Athletic’s Derek Bodner. The most important upshot is that it keeps a valuable player in Philadelphia as the Sixers rise. The knock-on effect is that it preserves space for a maximum-salary free agent in the 2018 free agency period.