Saturday, June 25, 2022

Operation hampers Knicks effort to treat veteran wing: report

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Starting with Thursday’s NBA draft, the New York Knicks are one of the more active teams in the association when it comes to making big roster changes.

It’s no secret the club covets Mavs pointman and soon-to-be free agent Jalen Brunson. However, sign-and-trade scenarios with Dallas may be a no-no, so New York is aiming to take a significant amount of salary — perhaps as much as $25 million — off its books to sign him outright.

To that end, Alec Burks is a key player in this process for the Knicks. After all, the veteran wing has a fair deal that pays him $10 million next season, which also serves as an expiring contract (there’s a team option for 2023-24).

According to The Athletic fred cat, Knicks Brass is actively trying to ship Burks. However, it seems to take at least one hurdle to unload him.

As first reported by cat, Burks underwent foot surgery earlier this offseason and is expected to be ready for training camp. For his part, The New York Daily News’ Stephen Bondi said the trial came shortly after the end of the Knicks’ 2021-22 campaign.

Despite the favorable schedule – not to mention Burks’ desirable contract – Katz says the operation “certainly impacts his value” in the trade market. And given its history, it’s not hard to see why.

During his early days in jazz, Burks’ once promising career was derailed in part due to two ankle/foot injuries sustained in 2015 and ’16.

The former No. 12 overall, who featured prominently for Utah, had been averaging more than 13 points per game over the three years from 2013-2016 prior to the aforementioned setbacks. After that, it would take four years and several team changes before he returned to his previous level.

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For some, Burks is symbolic of Tom Thibodeau’s seeming reluctance to embrace the future and actually develop the Knicks’ young prospects.

When the experiment with Kemba Walker failed and he had the opportunity to hand the keys to Immanuel Quickley or Deuce McBride as a new starting point, Thibodeau chose Burks, a 6ft 6 wing, instead. While the vet did some good things in the role, the move became more and more of a head-scratcher as time went on.

In 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 clearly not a natural playmaker. Additionally, Quickley was arguably New York’s most prolific player all the way.

As you might expect, Burks was most efficient as an offensive player when he served in his natural position as a second-unit wing last season. In this role, he is likely to be attractive beyond the financial aspect to competing teams looking to strengthen their benches.

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