The Clippers locked down one of their offseason priorities by agreeing to a two-year extension with forward Robert Covington worth $24 million, a person with knowledge of the agreement not authorized to speak publicly confirmed Thursday.
Covington could have become an unrestricted free agent this season, entering a market with limited salary cap space around the NBA, but by taking advantage of rules that made him eligible for an extension, Covington will earn slightly more than what he could have earned from the nontaxpayer midlevel exception.
Covington was acquired Feb. 4 in a deal with Portland that also netted the Clippers guard Norman Powell. While Powell, seen as a franchise cornerstone playing alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, battled a foot injury to stay on the court initially, Covington made an impression with the team by doing things both expected and not. A career 36% three-point shooter, the 31-year-old, 6-foot-7 wing shot 37.8% on threes with the Clippers. He made a franchise-record 11 three-pointers in a game against Milwaukee in April. A former NBA all-defense selection, his 2.8% steal percentage outpaced his career average and his help defense and fast hands — ones teammate Nicolas Batum said could lead to theft as deftly as those of Leonard — thwarted numerous drives past teammates.
But Covington also showed different sides of his game than he had to start the season in Portland, with his effectiveness driving past defenders closing out on him at the perimeter and either scoring or finding an open shooter. Coach Tyronn Lue even noted Covington’s driving with the ball had been a pleasant surprise.