It was only a matter of a time. From the moment that I saw Trey Burke had signed with the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA’s restart, I knew there would be at least one random game where all of “Sixers Twitter” set themselves ablaze with Burke-obsessed rage. During last night’s Rockets-Mavs game, that’s exactly what happened.
Burke scored a team-high 31 points on 11-16 shooting, while also knocking down eight of his ten attempted three pointers. He played 30 minutes and recored a +/- of +9. Despite the Mavs losing the game, it was undoubtedly a great performance by Burke, easily his best of the year.
However, the reactions from Sixers fans is what turned this into a storyline. Just by typing the phrase “Trey Burke Sixers” into the search bar of Twitter, I was met with a long list of wild overreactions.
“Look at Trey Burke thriving after leaving the Sixers”, “I CANNOT STAND THE SIXERS ORGANIZATION”, “If only the Sixers had a guard that could spot up like Trey Burke”.
Before even getting into the logistics of why the Sixers cut Burke and why it was the correct decision, let’s clarify something. 302 total points were scored during the Rockets-Mavs game last night. 302. Yes, Burke was knocking down his shots, but there wasn’t a single ounce of defense being played all game long by either side. Not an ounce. James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 80 total points, Kristaps Porzingis put up 39, and even a guy like Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24. This was a glorified scrimmage.
Now, diving into why the Sixers opted to release Burke. For starters, we really need to put into perspective what the former Michigan guard is as a player. He’s an undersized, volume scorer, who shoots under 35% from three, and tends to only play well with the ball in his hands. While yes he looked decent at times playing alongside Ben Simmons, we’re talking about a guy who’s already been on five different teams in his career. This is not some elite bench scorer like people are making him out to be.
The common complaint that arises when it comes to Burke’s release is the fact that the Sixers opted to keep Raul Neto over him. Obviously, with the emergence of Shake Milton into the rotation, none of this really even matters anymore. However, I still think the 76ers made the right choice in keeping Neto over Burke.
A lot of people tend to overlook this, but Burke’s father was quite vocal about wanting his son out of Philadelphia. During an Instagram post (now deleted) that was posted back in December, Burke’s dad had this to say about Trey’s role in Philly, “Man, get my son off this team. Killing him…Free TB23 please“. While I cannot confirm if Trey felt the same way, I think it’s fair to say he had at least expressed some form of frustration to his family members at some point. Even just by looking at him on the bench, it was clear he didn’t want to be there.
Burke wanted a bigger role, and all power to him for that. I hope he finds that in Dallas, but that’s not what the Sixers needed. Philly does not need a disgruntled third string point guard, they need locked in veterans who are willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Kyle O’Quinn is the perfect example of a guy who probably joined the Sixers expecting a larger role, but has since adopted a more mentor-based position with the team.
I personally think the gap between Neto and Burke is pretty small. Sure Burke is a little more gifted shooting-wise, but Neto is a better passer and ball handler. Neto did pretty well with Simmons himself when called into action earlier this year (mainly because Simmons is insanely good).
With the emergence of Milton, Burke would have been a third string PG at best during the playoffs (his defense would’ve kept him off the court), so I’m really not losing any sleep over it and you shouldn’t either. Sure he had some fun moments as a Sixer, and he definitely played well for the Mavs last night, but cutting a disgruntled backup is not an indication of some giant failure in the 76ers’ front office. In fact, letting go of Burke was really the best decision for both parties.
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