Raul Neto lost one former Utah Jazz teammate and gained another on Thursday.
The Sixers waived Trey Burke and traded for Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks, who spent the first seven-plus years of his career in Utah. They also dealt James Ennis to the Orlando Magic.
Neto has a very high opinion of Burks.
“He was injured a lot while I was there, so I could see he was a hard worker, always positive, always trying to help the team,” Neto told reporters before the Sixers’ loss Thursday night to the Bucks. “He’s obviously a great player, a talented player. He can score in many ways and he plays hard, so I think he is going to be good for us.
“It’s crazy, because I’ve always said he is one of the most talented players I have been around, he just hasn’t found his rhythm in this league. I remember in Utah, he had a couple of back-to-back games where he scored 28, 30 point. … Offensively, he is just so talented. He can score in any kind of way, can shoot the ball, draw fouls, can score in the paint. He is a really good player.”
Though he ultimately won the competition between himself and Burke in the sense that he’s still on the roster, Neto did not play Thursday. Shake Milton instead took over backup point guard duties in addition to continuing in his role as a replacement starter for Josh Richardson, who’s missed the past six games with a left hamstring strain. A team spokesperson said Wednesday that Richardson is nearing a return.
Neto’s 19-point first half last Tuesday vs. Golden State was a pleasant surprise for the Sixers. He’s shot 0 for 14 since that game.
Rapid bursts of scoring are much more in character for Burks than for Neto. With the Warriors, he had 13 20-plus point performances, albeit on a team that has the worst record in the NBA.
As head coach Brett Brown adjusts to having Burks and Robinson, he’ll at least have a personal familiarity with the 26-year-old Robinson. The two were together briefly when Robinson played 10 games as a rookie on the 2014-15 Sixers. Brown also knows Robinson’s father, Glenn “Big Dog Robinson,” since Brown was serving as the Spurs’ director of player development when Robinson was with San Antonio for the final stop of his 11-year NBA career.
“Glenn, who I’ve had before, kind of a two-way player, can make shots,” Brown said. “I think he’s shooting 40 percent from three and has grown his defense. He’s good people. When you started coaching people’s fathers, you know you’re getting old.”
This trade deadline for the Sixers was certainly not as earth-shattering as last year’s. While Brown will have to figure out how to allocate minutes, rotations and roles, it won’t be anything like incorporating Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Boban Marjanovic, Ennis and Jonathon Simmons. The urgency with this team is more about fixing problems with the current pieces than adjusting to new ones. Brown also believes that Burks and Robinson’s skill sets “fit in incredibly well.”
“I think that there is always a consistency with rosters that all coaches seek,” he said. “Your point about that hasn’t been the way we’ve done things in my days in Philadelphia is true. But I think in those times, you kind have had to do it. I think that the group we have now is more than capable and I look forward to just taking the group … and getting out of this losing slump, trying to fix our problems.
“I think that you’re more apt and able to do that with the group that we have than thinking there’s a magic bullet out there to fix things. For those reasons, the group that I am left with, I’m excited to continue with.”