New York currently has 15 players on the books with guaranteed salaries for the upcoming season and by virtue of not being one of those players, Burke is on the outside looking in. However, Joakim Noah will be suspended for the first 12 games of the season, meaning the team will have an additional roster spot available for those contests.
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It was reported earlier today that the Knicks view Burke as a potential G-League player. Still, the former no.9 overall pick is confident that he’ll stick with the team during Noah’s suspension and force New York to cut a player on a guaranteed deal once the big man returns.
“I believe in myself. I’m looking forward to coming out here every day and proving myself,” Burke tells ESPN’s Ian Begley (via ESPN Now link). “Obviously I want to make this roster. We know nothing is given. For me, my faith took me a long way. So I believe that I will make the roster even if no one else does so we’ll see what happens.”
Should the club trade Courtney Lee, something it appears willing to do, and choose not to take back a player in the deal, Burke would have a better shot at making the opening night roster. His main competition for the 12-game audition is veteran Jarrett Jack, who signed a non-guaranteed deal with the club last month. Absent of a trade, it seems there’s a battle between an aging veteran and a former lottery pick who never reached his potential.
Jack came to New York’s training camp looking to prove that he’s healthy after a knee injury ended his 2016/17 campaign. The point guard hasn’t had any setbacks during the team’s three preseason games. He scored 22 points and dished out 12 assists over 69 minutes of action.
Projected starting point guard Ron Baker missed a couple of preseason games with an ankle injury and No. 8 overall pick Frank Ntilikina hasn’t been able to suit up yet because of a knee ailment. The injury woes likely compelled the team to bring in another option to run the point.
None of the team’s point guard options make a particularly strong case to start. The Knicks appear willing to take things slow with Ntilikina. Baker is likely best-suited for a reserve role; same with Jack if he makes the squad, though both players are capable of running the show, especially considering New York’s lack of stellar expectations this season. New addition Ramon Sessions got a pair of starts this preseason, though he didn’t exactly light the world on fire, tallying just 11 assists over 56 minutes of action.
The Knicks have one more preseason game remaining (Friday against the Wizards) and if Burke shines, he could find himself on the opening night roster. With that comes a dozen games to prove he belongs not only on the team, but also in the first-unit alongside his former college teammate Tim Hardaway Jr.
Burke faces an uphill battle to win a starting spot. However, the Knicks’ lack of top-notch options, coupled with Burke’s presumed familiarity with the team’s second-highest-paid player, give this former National Player of the Year award recipient a chance to become the franchise’s top floor general.
Will Burke make the opening night roster and will he be able to carve out a role with the Knicks?
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