What’s up, peeps?

There’s a different vibe surrounding the 76ers at the NBA trade deadline compared to last season. Perhaps a lot of that has to do with their not having the assets to add a marquee difference-maker without breaking up their core.

So it will be interesting to see what happens before the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline.

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At what expense are Sixers willing to make a deal?

Right now, the 76ers might be better suited to use extreme patience.

Everyone knows they could use some reinforcements at the trade deadline. But at what expense?

Let’s face it. The Sixers don’t have the type of assets to bring in an A-list difference-maker without breaking up their core. Sure they could move Zhaire Smith or Jonah Bolden or Kyle O’Quinn or possibly Norvel Pelle and a second-round pick in a package to get a low-level shooter. The particulars would depend on that shooter’s contract.

But adding that sort of player really won’t make a major improvement or shake things up for an underachieving 31-20 squad. So the Sixers could opt to dump one or two of their end-of-the-bench reserves with expiring contracts to create a roster spot or spots. That would enable them to convert Pelle’s two-way contract to a regular 15-man roster deal. They could also use a spot on someone in the buyout market.

Again, trading for a low-level shooter won’t make a major improvement or shake things up.

Sixers second-year player Zhaire Smith has been mentioned as a candidate to be traded.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Sixers second-year player Zhaire Smith has been mentioned as a candidate to be traded.

Starting five

Covington heads back to Houston

It turns out the rumors about Robert Covington’s possibly returning to a former team via a trade were right. It was just the wrong team.

The Houston Rockets acquired Covington in a four-team, 12-player trade Tuesday night. The versatile forward had been mentioned as a possible trade candidate for the Sixers, another of his former teams.

Covington signed with the Rockets on July 13, 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee State. He spent most of his time in the NBA G League before Houston released him on Oct. 27, 2014. The Sixers signed him a couple of weeks later.

Covington blossomed into one of the Sixers’ leaders, but they were forced to trade him to get a third star to play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. So on Nov. 12, 2018, they sent him, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for four-time All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton.

Robert Covington is Houston-bound, again.
Carlos Gonzalez / MCT
Robert Covington is Houston-bound, again.

Important dates: Next Five Flow

Tomorrow: Sixers at Milwaukee Bucks, 8 p.m., TNT

Friday: Memphis Grizzlies at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sunday: Chicago Bulls at Sixers, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Tuesday: Los Angeles Clippers at Sixers, 7 p.m., TNT

Feb. 20: Brooklyn Nets at Sixers, 8 p.m., TNT

Passing the rock

Question: Do you think D’Angelo Russell would be the best move to make right now? Would send Horford the other way and start Simmons at the 4 — @Gold26Z on Twitter

Answer: Good morning, and thanks for the question. It is actually a great one. A lot of it has to do with how patient the Sixers want to be, and do they think Russell can actually get them to the NBA Finals. If not, why make that move now?

Yes, Russell would help create space for Joel Embiid to operate on the block because of his shooting 38.3% from three this season. However, he’s also a volume shooter, one who can’t seem to find a permanent home in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers gave up on him two seasons after selecting him second overall in the 2015 draft. There was also rumblings that the Brooklyn Nets didn’t think he was a good personality fit last season despite his being named an NBA All-Star.

On the plus side, Russell and Ben Simmons are good friends and were roommates at Montverde Academy. But aside from that, the Sixers will have to ask themselves if they are willing to gamble on someone who might not be a good fit in Philadelphia.

Golden State Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell (0) is averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 assists this season.
Tony Dejak / AP
Golden State Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell (0) is averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 assists this season.