It’s no secret that the club covets Mavs point-man and soon-to-be free agent Jalen Brunson. However, sign-and-trade scenarios with Dallas may be a no-go, so New York is aiming to clear a significant amount of salary — perhaps as much as $25 million — off its books in order to sign him outright.
To that end, Alec Burks figures to be a key player in the process for the Knicks. After all, the veteran wing is on a fair-market deal paying him $10 million next season that also serves as an expiring contract (there’s a team option in there for 2023-24).
According to The Athletic’s Fred Katz, Knicks brass is actively trying to ship Burks out. However, there appears to be at least one hurdle to clear in unloading him.
Burks Had Offseason Surgery
As reported first by Katz, Burks underwent foot surgery earlier this offseason and is expected to be ready for training camp. For his part, The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy relayed that the procedure took place shortly after the Knicks’ 2021-22 campaign came to an end.
In spite of the favorable timetable — not to mention Burks’ desirable contract — Katz says that the surgery “for sure affects his value” on the trade market. And, given his history, it’s not hard to see why.
During his fledgling days with the Jazz, Burks’ once promising career was derailed, in part, due to a pair of ankle/foot injuries suffered in 2015 and ’16.
Playing in a featured role for Utah, the former No. 12 overall pick had averaged 13-plus points per game for three years running from 2013-16 before the aforementioned setbacks. Afterwards, it would take him four years and multiple team changes to return to his previous level.
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Burks Was Miscast as a PG Last Season
For some, Burks is a symbol of Tom Thibodeau’s perceived unwillingness to embrace the future and actually develop the Knicks’ young prospects.
When the Kemba Walker experiment failed and he had an opportunity to hand the keys over to Immanuel Quickley or Deuce McBride as the new starting point, Thibodeau instead went with Burks, a 6-foot-6 wing. Although the vet did some good things in the role, the move became more of a head-scratcher as time wore on.
Over 44 games as a starter, the 30-year-old logged a 13-6-4 line and shot 39.1% from deep. However, he was also a sub-40% shooter overall and very clearly not a natural playmaker. Moreover, Quickley was arguably New York’s most productive player down the stretch.
As one might expect, Burks was at his most efficient as an offensive player when he was serving in his natural slot as a second-unit wing last season. In that role, he likely holds some appeal beyond the financial aspect for contending teams looking to bolster their benches.