Warriors insider Monte Poole gives insight into Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III

Warriors insider Monte Poole gives insight into Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III

Logically, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III were likely candidates to be traded once the Golden State Warriors’ season started to spiral downwards. But, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors Insider Monte Poole, their teammates didn’t take the wing duo’s departure from Golden State in stride.

Poole provided insight to NBC Sports Philadelphia after the Sixers traded early Thursday morning for Burks and Robinson in exchange for three second-round picks.

“They’re both high-character players, high-character men — they’re low-maintenance,” Poole said. “Seeing them go wasn’t popular with the players. There was a sense of sadness.”

It seemed highly probable that Burks and Robinson would be dealt because both players are on one-year, veteran minimum deals. The 12-40 Warriors had more to gain by flipping the two for assets than by holding on to them.

“You saw this coming,” Poole said, “but some of their teammates were absorbing it and I guess it takes a little while for it to sink in. They’ll be missed, because Alec and Glenn were both respected voices in the locker room.”

Burks, nicknamed “Buckets” by his teammates, averaged 16.1 points per game with the Warriors and shot 40.6 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from three-point range. Robinson assumed the largest role of his career this season, starting 48 games. The 26-year-old is having an excellent shooting year, hitting 40 percent of his threes overall and 40.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes.

“Really good scorer, very streaky,” Poole said of Burks. “He can score at all three levels. He is different from Glenn in the sense that he needs the ball to do his best work. Glenn does his best work off the ball — moving, cutting, shooting threes. … They’re both good pieces to have on a contending team.”

The Sixers are 21st in the NBA in three-point percentage and 23rd in long range makes per game, so Burks and Robinson would seem to fill a pressing need.

Defense is not either player’s most attractive quality, though Poole assessed Burks as “average” and Robinson as “above average.” Robinson has learned defense by the side of Draymond Green

Poole thinks Robinson and Burke won’t have trouble acclimating to the Sixers’ culture, even in the context of players recently voicing frustration about confounding offensive fit and disappointment in their inability to meet expectations thus far.

“They just say what needs to be said. They’re consummate pros in that regard,” Poole said. “These guys are not trouble guys. They’re easy to deal with in every way.”

Robinson, who spent 10 games with the Sixers as a rookie in 2015, is a bit more open and talkative than Burks, according to Poole. We’ll probably hear stories about what he remembers from his father's time as a Sixer. Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson spent the bulk of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks but played in Philadelphia for one healthy season, the 2003-04 campaign.

Sixers GM Elton Brand will hope Robinson is coming into his own as a player.

“I thought Glenn had found his offensive game the last month or so,” Poole said. “That corner three is really deadly.” 

As for Burks, should there be any concerns about that aforementioned streakiness? Is he a player who will understand when he doesn’t have the hot hand, defer to his teammates and still manage to make a positive impact?

Poole feels he can be.

“I think Alec is a guy who looks at a situation and adapts to it,” he said. “He’s a smart enough basketball player to know it’s not my night, pass it on. With the Warriors, they’re having a terrible season and he was their primary scorer off the bench. [Head coach] Steve Kerr liked to have him off the bench because he gave them a jolt of offense most times.”

The Sixers are very much a team that could use a jolt. 

Tune in to the NBA Trade Deadline Show on the NBC Sports MyTeams app Thursday at 2:30 for analysis of all the important moves around the NBA.

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons reportedly had clean MRI on left knee

When Ben Simmons flexed his left leg after lobbing a pass for Al Horford and immediately headed off the floor Wednesday during the Sixers’ win over the Wizards, it was logical to be concerned. But, according to a report, Simmons’ knee injury is not as severe as one might have feared watching him walk toward the locker room. 

An MRI on Simmons’ knee was clean and he’s expected to be day-to-day, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. It's worth noting this is not an official update from the Sixers, who Brett Brown said postgame he expected to issue an announcement soon about Simmons' status. 

The 24-year-old recovered from a nerve impingement in his lower back over the NBA’s hiatus, and he felt strong and explosive heading into the league’s restart. He’s now serving as the Sixers’ starting point forward, an adjustment Brown thinks he’s approached well.

“I do feel like Ben has been amazing,” Brown said before Wednesday’s game, “in regards to just being mature on ‘Put me wherever you think I can best help the team.’ At times maybe he hasn’t gotten a touch the way he needs to get a touch, sometimes — which was easier when he was always the primary ball carrier. And so I applaud him tremendously on being a great teammate, trying to accept a new type of ecosystem that we’re trying to use him in.”

Simmons looked for his shot often in Wednesday’s game, though with little success. He missed an open corner three-pointer in the first quarter, his first legitimate regular-season try from long distance since Dec. 7, and made 2 of 10 field goals overall in 23 minutes. 

If Simmons misses any games, Brown will have a few options for reshuffling his starting lineup. There’s a case to be made for just about every member of the current rotation, which Brown cut down to nine players on Wednesday. Al Horford could slide into the frontcourt if Brown wants to work on the Horford-Joel Embiid pairing, which has a plus-15.6 net rating in 40 minutes together at Disney World after being the Sixers’ worst regular duo pre-hiatus.

Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Glenn Robinson III have all started games this year, though Robinson is dealing with an injury himself, having missed the team's first three seeding games with a left hip pointer. Perhaps Brown could go with Alec Burks if he’s looking for an extra ball handler and more time to evaluate his potential backup point guard in the playoffs.

The main takeaway here, however, is not the potential ripple effects on the Sixers' seeding game rotation. Rather, it's that a player the team will surely need to have available in order to make a deep playoff run reportedly has avoided a serious injury.

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Sixers squeak by Wizards after Ben Simmons exits early with left knee injury

Sixers squeak by Wizards after Ben Simmons exits early with left knee injury

Updated: 10:12 p.m. 

The importance of the Sixers’ 107-98 win over the Wizards on Wednesday pales in comparison to Ben Simmons’ status. 

The two-time All-Star suffered a left knee injury in the third quarter and did not return. Joel Embiid (30 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for the Sixers, who improved to 41-27 and next face the Magic on Friday night. His dunk with 19.3 seconds to go finally sealed the victory over the 24-44 Wizards. 

Here are observations on the game: 

Simmons’ early exit 

Simmons (eight points on 2 for 10 shooting, six rebounds, four assists) headed to the locker room in the middle of the third period. He flexed his left leg after throwing a pass for Al Horford and immediately headed off the floor. 

That injury clearly casts a shadow on the game for the Sixers given Simmons’ obvious, immense value as a versatile offensive piece and excellent defender. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Simmons has no swelling or pain in his left knee and that “early indications … are encouraging.”

"I’m sure the club will make some announcement about Ben’s departure from the floor soon," Brett Brown said after the game. "But as far as knowing more than that, I really don’t. I’m obviously very curious to hear what that news is.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Wednesday night that an MRI on Simmons' knee came back clean and he's expected to be day-to-day. 

Inconsistent (but better) defense 

As far as Brown is concerned, the explanation for most of the Sixers’ defensive issues in their first two seeding games is simple. 

“When we choose to play defense on a more repetitive, regular basis — not (just) the third period and don’t pay attention to the first half, as an example — when we get that disposition, that physicality, I think things are going to connect,” he said before the game.

The collective effort and focus was solid in the first quarter against the Wizards but lapsed at times afterwards. Shake Milton was beaten off the dribble on several occasions in the first half. Tobias Harris ceded an offensive rebound to Troy Brown Jr. early in the third quarter, and Brown laid it in to tie the game at 58 apiece during a 23-11 Wizards run to begin the third period. Overall, the Sixers are playing below their potential defensively and will pay in the playoffs if they don’t elevate their level. 

Simmons, of course, is a main reason why the team’s defensive ceiling seemed so high entering this season. 

Trimming the rotation 

Brown decided to cut his rotation from 10 players to nine against the Wizards, leaving Raul Neto out. Mike Scott (right knee soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) remained sidelined. 

The Sixers’ head coach acknowledged there are still rotation-related questions he’s assessing ahead of the playoffs. 

“I think the desire to play 10 initially, I don’t regret,” he said pregame. “I’ve admitted I’m trying to learn stuff and keep the team’s spirit at a place that I think ends up important. I do think that it has been difficult to find real minutes for 10 players — it’s just so much that can go around. … Ultimately, you get to the playoffs, it’s certainly going to be nine.” 

Alec Burks was the sole backup point guard and also played on the wing in a lineup alongside Simmons, Harris, Horford and Josh Richardson. He had nine points, two assists and no turnovers in 19:34, with his playing time extended because of Simmons’ injury.

He knows what’s coming 

All of the double teams Embiid is encountering come as no surprise to the big man.

“I’ve just gotta keep on getting better because I know that every single game I’m going to get doubled,” he said Monday night, “so I’ve gotta just figure that out … and create shots for my teammates. If I’m open and I’ve got a duck-in, just go out and do it. But other than that, just try to make sure defenders attract a lot of attention, just for my teammates.”

Washington’s double teams were predictably frequent and aggressive, and Embiid again handled them reasonably well. With the exception of one first-quarter play where he turned toward the baseline on a fadeaway jumper attempt straight into Isaac Bonga, he took what the defense presented to him. 

And, when the Wizards couldn’t send an extra body, he recognized his advantage and went straight to work. 

Milton (14 points, four assists) and Richardson (15 points, three assists) helped Embiid out by hitting a couple of jumpers down the stretch. 

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