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July 03, 2019

Sixers to sign Raul Neto, presumably to fill backup point guard role

The Sixers have reached an agreement to sign Brazilian guard Raul Neto to a veteran minimum contract, a team source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Wednesday evening. Shams Charania of The Athletic was the first to report the news.

Neto, who we identified as a potential candidate for a backup guard role earlier this week, gives the Sixers another player who can actually dribble a basketball. That's a low bar to clear, but the Sixers won't have to go into next season relying strictly on Shake Milton to spell Ben Simmons at the point.

This isn't going to sound sexy, but Neto is a game manager more than anything else. He's solid, if unspectacular, pretty much across the board, and if the Sixers were in a position where they needed to shoot for more upside, you'd probably frown on selecting him over some more volatile players. But among the players they could get on a cheap contract, he's arguably the most reliable, and that will suit this Sixers team just fine.

Over the last four years in Utah, Neto was a low-volume player on offense, but the Jazz would generally outplay their opponents whenever he was on the floor. He's good enough at enough things that teams have to play him fairly honest in a halfcourt setting, and though his three-point shooting numbers dipped during his last season in Utah, he'll make teams pay there if they concede enough space to him on the perimeter.

With Philadelphia suddenly in a position where they might have to rely on Shake Milton for backup guard minutes, getting a guy like Neto gives you a steady hand in the event that a young player goes out and looks like, well, a young player. Neto won't be much help on the defensive end, but we're talking about a team that just signed Al Horford, traded for Josh Richardson, and drafted two straight defensive wings in the first round. They're not going to fall apart on D because of Neto.

One of the knocks against Neto up to this point in his career — and the thing that pushes back against that "reliable" label — is that he rarely manages to stay healthy.  He has battled a variety of health issues at different points in his career, ranging from a broken wrist to hamstring issues, and he isn't coming to a team that is best known for managing the health of their players. 

Neto's ability to stay healthy is worth keeping an eye on for sure and may prompt the Sixers to turn to another guard with one of their final roster spots. They are quietly approaching the roster limit, and while this isn't sourced information, I would expect them to leave at least one spot on the roster open for potential buyout candidates down the road. With Kyle Korver on the waiver market following his trade to Phoenix, my guess is they would prioritize bringing him and his elite shooting in first if they can get him, and if not, I expect they'll adapt from there.

The Sixers had a draft night that left some people perplexed, and losing Jimmy Butler hasn't sat well with certain parts of the fanbase. But they've done well to bring a lot of smart, useful basketball players into the fold this summer, and Neto is another guy in that mold who can help keep the environment stable around Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. On a minimum deal, that's about all you can ask for.

MORE: Natalie Egenolf: Sixers fans should keep trusting the Process — and the Mike Scott Hive

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