It’s time to revisit the Philadelphia 76ers controversial (?) decision.
On Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets scored a kajillion points in a thrilling OT battle. While Houston inevitably won, it was the Mavs who featured the most surprising individual performance. That honor belonged to Trey Burke.
In his first official appearance for Dallas this season, Burke scored 31 points in 29 minutes. He went 11-for-16 from the field, and shot a blistering 8-for-10 from 3-point range. Not shabby for a veteran minimum pick-up.
As you may remember, Burke began the 2019-20 season as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. He was released to make room for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline, leaving Raul Neto as the Sixers’ only “true point guard” in the second unit.
The Sixers fanbase isn’t one to take things lightly, so Burke’s performance naturally led to some strong reactions. Many were quick to criticize Brett Brown, who never came around on Burke. Others were also quick to criticize Brett Brown, as that appears to be the gut reaction for most fans nowadays.
Does Brown deserve criticism? Well…
No. Not really. It’s important to remember the context here. Burke was a veteran minimum pick-up who didn’t find a home before the hiatus. Before the season, Burke was signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran minimum contract. That was fair market value. We are not discussing Allen Iverson here.
Outlier performances happen. If JaKarr Sampson drops a 30-point triple-double in the Sixers-Pacers game, there won’t be any searing retrospectives on Brown’s failure as a coach. Burke had a couple strong showings in Philadelphia, but he’s a deeply flawed player who was cut because he was the easiest player to cut.
Burke cannot adequately defend. He’s also a low-assist creator with a tendency to over-dribble. While the Sixers can, on paper, use a bucket-getter of Burke’s ilk, the negatives tend to outweigh the positives. I would go as far as to say Neto is, in fact, the better player. And this is coming from someone who advocated for Burke before the season.
At no point was Burke a player of consequence in Philadelphia. Sure, he’s flashy, but when you view the roster as a whole, there’s no room for him to thrive. He wouldn’t get minutes over any of the players currently receiving minutes.
The Sixers are not the Mavs. The Mavs have a hole at backup point guard due to the absence of Jalen Brunson. In Dallas, there was a path to minutes for Burke, who played for the Mavs in 2018-19. It was not the same in Philadelphia, even if you preferred Burke over Neto. It’s abundantly clear Neto does not (and will not) have a spot in the Sixers’ Orlando rotation.
There is nothing egregious about the Sixers’ decision to part ways with Burke, even after his Friday night explosion. And if anything, the criticism should fall more on the front office than Brown, who gave Burke every chance to win the role over Neto. He never did. At no point was there an unequivocal, consensus opinion that Burke should receive minutes over Neto.
Good for Burke. Hopefully he can continue to blossom in Dallas and parlay that success into a solid paycheck this fall. But to act as if the Sixers shot themselves in the foot is extreme.