After trading away James Ennis to make way for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, the Philadelphia 76ers’ decision to waive Trey Burke leaves more questions than answers.
Featuring not one, not two, but three members of Quinn Snyder‘s 40-42 squad, it looked like Trey Burke and Raul Neto had some heated competition for playing time thanks to the deadline addition of their former teammate Alec Burks. But as weirdly interesting as it would have been to see Gordon Hayward‘s former teammates duke it out for minutes coming off the bench, that unfortunately won’t come to pass, as Brand released the 6-foot-tall Allen Iverson lookalike one month after having his contract guaranteed not one month prior.
Which is beyond unfortunate, because Burke never really had a chance.
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Okay, technically Burke appeared in 25 games for the 76ers this season, but after signing Neto months earlier in free agency, to a guaranteed contract no less, the quote-unquote point guard competition between the ex-teammates never quite felt fair.
Through the preseason, Neto consistently got the nod behind Ben Simmons, a trend that continued deep into the regular season. Despite lacking a ton of punch coming off the bench in a pre-Furkan Korkmaz explosion world, Burke didn’t earn a minute of NBA playing time until the second week of November, when he scored five points in 18 minutes of action.
From there, Burke spent the better part of 20 games as Brown’s primary backup, and played fairly well, averaging 7.6 points in 16 minutes of action a night. Factor in the, well, fact, that Burke led the team in 3 point shooting percentage at 42.1 on albeit only 38 attempts and it appeared that Brand had stumbled upon a 6-foot-tall spark-plug capable stealing a playoff game or two down the line.
Only that didn’t happen.
After moonlighting in the closing lineup alongside Simmons in early January, Burke slowly but surely fell out of favor in Brown’s rotation, and was effectively replaced with Neto once again.
While Brown would occasionally play the duo together, with Burke kicking over to the two, Burke (and probably his dad) couldn’t have felt good about their future going into the trade deadline – and with good reason. What if Philly traded for Derrick Rose? Would there even be a role for Burke?
Well, as it turned out, the 76ers didn’t add a true point guard at the deadline – though I will continue to ring the Point Burks bell until I’m proven otherwise – but unfortunately for Burke, that didn’t really matter.
With two players, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III coming in and only second-round picks going out, Brand needed to free up two roster spots to accept his midseason reinforcements. Despite leaving Jonah Bolden and Kyle O’Quinn in Philly for an undermanned bout against the Milwaukee Bucks, it was Burke and James Ennis who were ultimately handed their walking papers, with the former being outright released, and the latter being traded to the Orlando Magic due to a lack of playing time behind Matisse Thybulle.
And just like that, Burke has to sit back and wait for another opportunity to prove that he can be a contributor on a playoff team… somewhere.
*Sigh* if we’re being honest, this was inevitable. For as fun as Burke was to watch, and how confusingly enjoyable it would have been to have a ‘Burke’ and a ‘Burks’ on the same roster, the former ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft just doesn’t fit the rigged scheme Brown and Brand are trying to run. Burke is small, can only really play one position, and is not a good defender even on opposing point guards. He’s not switchable, not an amazing passer, and never really participated in the two-man give-and-go game with Joel Embiid.
Don’t get me wrong, Burke can do a ton of things right in the correct scheme, but this wasn’t it.
Who knows, maybe a team like the Houston Rockets will claim Burke off of waivers, and his iso-ball game will shine as a change-up ball-handler behind James Harden. Still, after handling his inconsistent playing time professionally all season, it’s a bummer to see Trey Burke waived by the Philadelphia 76ers without earning a legitimate chance to prove his mettle.