Sixers know what they're getting in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, and it's not a 'magic bullet'

Sixers know what they're getting in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, and it's not a 'magic bullet'

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.”

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NBA owners reportedly expected to approve plan for return

NBA owners reportedly expected to approve plan for return

Updated, Wednesday, 3 p.m.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, NBA commissioner Adam Silver intends to propose a 22-team plan to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA's Board of Governors has a call at 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday and is expected to approve Silver's plan. 

Silver is targeting a date of July 31 to resume play, per Charania. The season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What exactly would a 22-team return look like? Each team would play eight regular-season games to determine playoff seeding, and the six teams outside of those in a playoff position at the moment would be the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards, Wojnarowski reported.

According to Yahoo Sports' Vince Goodwill, teams would continue with their schedule as originally planned. If a team is slated to play one of the eight teams not included, it would move on to the next game on its schedule. The Sixers had a relatively easy remaining schedule, so the elimination of non-contending teams would be a slight negative for them. They had a stretch of games set for March 19-26 against Charlotte, Atlanta, Minnesota and Chicago.

Here's what their remaining schedule could look like, based on Goodwill's reporting:

Vs. Indiana 
Vs. Washington
Vs. Toronto 
Vs. Phoenix 
Vs. Portland 
Vs. Houston
At Washington
Vs. Orlando 

At 39-26, the Sixers are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. While they're 8.5 games ahead of the Nets, the seventh seed, the Sixers could have an opportunity to rise in the standings. The final regular-season games could also impact the Sixers in the NBA draft. The team owns Oklahoma City's first-round pick, but that selection is top-20 protected, meaning it won't convey if the Thunder don't finish with one of the league's 10 best records.

There would be a play-in tournament if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed at the end of the regular season, Charania reported. If that's not the case, the eight seed would go straight to the playoffs. That won't apply to the Sixers, since they're not on the playoff bubble.

Still, the play-in tournament might impact the probability of early upsets, one way or another. It remains to be seen whether a team performing well in the play-in tournament would carry over to the playoffs, or whether it would be adversely impacted by the extra games played. Both factors could have an influence. 

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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

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Sixers' Tobias Harris delivers strong message about racism, police brutality in personal essay

In an essay published Wednesday morning in The Players’ Tribune, Tobias Harris delivered a strong message about racism and police brutality in America while also providing insight into how his perceptions about race have been shaped. 

The piece is headlined, “Y’all Hear Us, But You Ain’t Listening.” Harris begins by framing the conversation about the death of 46-year-old black man George Floyd, who was killed last week in police custody when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the three other officers on the scene were fired but haven’t been charged.

“But if we gon’ talk about what happened to George Floyd,” Harris writes, “there needs to be a baseline acknowledgement of the reality: A white police officer killed an unarmed black man, and he was able to do it in broad daylight, with three other cops watching, because of the color of his skin.

“And don’t reply to me with, ‘Oh, but this person did this.’ Don’t try and make excuses, or say this isn’t about race. In a lot of my conversations with white people lately, I’m getting that statement over and over again: ‘Let’s stop making this about race.’” 

Harris draws a sharp juxtaposition between President Donald Trump’s characterization of protestors against stay-at-home orders in place because of the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's language about protestors who have marched around the country in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. 

Last month, armed men took over the steps of Michigan’s capitol building. To protest the QUARANTINE.

And what did the President call them?

'Good people.'

But we go out and protest that another black life has been taken senselessly, and we’re 'THUGS.'

Come on.

This is why black Americans are angry.

Harris writes that “the killing of Trayvon Martin was a turning point for me.” 

“When he was killed, all because he looked ‘suspicious’ for wearing a black hoodie at night in his own neighborhood, I realized that that could have been my brother,” he writes. “Once you really sit with that, it’s a really scary feeling. I had to get out of my own NBA bubble, and understand that there’s a different world out there. Not everybody can get in a nice car every day, drive to work, come home, work out, and be O.K. People go through different s---. Every. Single. Day. I had to come to grips with that.”

He later reflects on the obligation he feels to speak on behalf of black people who don’t play in the NBA or have celebrity status and cites the late Muhammad Ali as an inspiration.

The way I look at it? If people in my community are oppressed, then so am I. Shout out to Muhammad Ali, one of the biggest role models in my life, for showing the way. He was never scared to take a stand against INJUSTICE.

"I’ve also had to get uncomfortable in knowing who I am — knowing that, yeah, I made it to the NBA, and that’s changed some things for me in terms of how I’m treated. I don’t have it the same as the next person. I’ve come to grips with the fact that yes, I’m black, but that dude that’s getting pulled over by a cop in his car, he don’t have the luxury of that officer recognizing him.

"That’s the problem. The difference between a cop recognizing you or not shouldn’t be life or death. 

Harris says he’s glad he protested on Saturday in Philadelphia after regretting a missed opportunity to march in Orlando in 2013, about a year after Martin’s death.

“On Saturday in Philly, it was about a togetherness of people pushing out a message. And that message was really about respect. It was about people respecting others, and understanding their hurt and their pain.”

Another interesting topic Harris covers is the deficiencies he sees in what kids are taught about black history, and his individual efforts to fill in knowledge gaps. He also covers his own work mentoring young people in the Philadelphia area and the disparities he’s observed “between a school in North Philly out here, and a school in the Main Line of Lower Merion.”

The entire piece is worth a read. 

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