Before the season began, the Los Angeles Clippers were being hailed in some sections for constructing what seemed from the outside looking in to be an ego-free roster.
Paul George was playing down his importance, Reggie Jackson and John Wall were embracing each other’s presence, and guys on the whole were publicly accepting whatever roles they had to play in order to see the team succeed.
It’s an environment that coach Ty Lue would be grateful for with the Clippers now a third of their way into the NBA season, especially with some of the rotation headaches he has faced up until this point. Roles of seasoned veterans have been ever-changing, while young guys have also gone back and forth between the G-League and the main roster, and yet Robert Covington still feels like the one player who doesn’t get the love he deserves.
On Thursday night, with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard and Norman Powell all sitting, it felt as though there was no better time for RoCo to get a start and prove to his coach that he’s worth bumping up the rotation. However, Lue opted to start Amir Coffey, who has thus far been much less effective than last season, alongside Marcus Morris Sr., with two-way player Moses Brown at center.
Covington did get the second-most minutes off the bench in the 111-95 loss to the Phoenix Suns, and in his coach’s defense, he didn’t have a huge impact on the game, but there are a huge(r) number of mitigating circumstances that come with missing double the amount of starters as their opponent. That feels like the story of the season for a player who is already more than used to being surrounded by a ‘trust the process’ narrative.
As per ClutchPoints’ Clippers beat writer Tomer Azarly, Coach Lue has spoken to the former Philadelphia 76ers forward and insisted the player understands his role and has remained professional about it.
When I asked Ty Lue if we could see more of Robert Covington tonight if Ivica zubac doesn’t play, he said yes.— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 13, 2022
Added that he just wants to keep looking at things/lineups and essentially knows what he has with RoCo and he’s been a professional about it.
The possible problem for Covington is that it’s far less likely the front office would be prepared to stick with the ‘process’ with quite as much professionalism if the right trade offer was on the table. Having signed a two-year extension worth roughly $24million back in May, his salary and skill set could still be used as makeweights to get somebody that would have a better chance of troubling the starting five.
That’s sad to say for a player who seems to have bought into the culture in Los Angeles as well as anybody, having replied “of course” when asked if he sees his current spot as a long-term home back in April. While he does have the ability to turn things around and is arguably the Clippers’ best small-ball center option given his rim protection trumps both Morris and Batum, it’s hard at this point to see where the minutes that build up momentum come from.
With one available roster spot remaining, it’s likely there’s another twist to come from the organization if they’re to go all in at the jackpot this postseason. Fans are still living in hope, though, that Covington proves himself too valuable to be considered a chip they look to cash in on.
Will Robert Covington finish this season on the Clippers?
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