Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks is expected to make his 2016/17 debut on Monday night when Utah faces the Nets in Brooklyn, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). According to Jones, Burks will be on a minutes restriction upon returning to Utah’s lineup.
The 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Burks is in his sixth year with the Jazz, though his career has been plagued by injuries so far. Outside of a career year in 2013/14, when he averaged 14.0 PPG in 78 games, Burks has never played more than 64 games in a season, and has been limited to just 58 since signing a contract extension in October 2014.
Having missed most of the 2015/16 campaign with ankle and leg injuries, Burks was ruled out indefinitely at the start of 2016/17 after he underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left ankle.
With Burks set to return, it will be interesting to see how he fits into a Jazz rotation that features Rodney Hood and offseason signee Joe Johnson. With Dante Exum and George Hill sidelined, there should be enough minutes to go around in the backcourt for now, but if and when everyone gets healthy, there may be a bit of a logjam.
Burks is one of just two players on the Jazz – along with Rudy Gobert – who is on a guaranteed contract through at least the 2018/19 season, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s safe for the long term in Utah. Last month, ESPN’s Zach Lowe identified Burks as a possible trade candidate, noting that Utah has plenty of key players up for new deals soon, and probably can’t afford to keep everyone.