Alec Burks

Lowe’s Latest: K. Williams, Payne, Monk, Burks, Hartenstein

For the 10th year in a row, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has named his end-of-season “Luke Walton All-Stars,” honoring overlooked rotation players and NBA journeymen who have impressed him most over the course of the year.

Nets guard Bruce Brown, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Raptors teammates Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry are among the players who made Lowe’s list, which also includes a handful of interesting tidbits on some of his choices. Here are a few highlights:

  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, who resisted signing a two-way contract multiple times earlier in his career, has enjoyed a breakout year in Oklahoma City. Sources tell Lowe that several playoff teams expressed trade interest in Williams prior to March’s deadline, but he wanted to remain in OKC, where he’s under contract for two more years (both non-guaranteed).
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne told Lowe that he thought his NBA career might be over in 2020, when the Mavericks opted to sign Trey Burke over him for the summer restart after he had played well for Dallas’ G League affiliate. However, he got an opportunity shortly thereafter with Phoenix, in large part because head coach Monty Williams had gotten to know him during their time with the Thunder.
  • Another former first-round pick, Hornets guard Malik Monk, was concerned about his NBA career last year as well, following his suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, his brother Marcus Monk told Lowe. The former Kentucky standout has enjoyed a career year while trying to let go of tension about his role, Lowe writes. “Guys who have success in college think the NBA is going to go a certain way,” Marcus said. “You think you’re invincible. Malik fell victim to that. I’m proud of how he matured.”
  • Before he signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Knicks last fall, Alec Burks discussed a deal with the Bulls, according to Lowe. Burks’ familiarity with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant from their time in Utah was a factor in his decision to choose New York.
  • After an underwhelming stint in Denver, Isaiah Hartenstein has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 16 games (17.9 MPG). Lowe says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hartenstein turns down his minimum-salary player option for 2021/22 to seek a new deal.

Knicks Notes: Burks, Robinson, Quickley, Thibodeau

The Knicks will be cautious with Alec Burks, who missed the past seven games while in the league’s health and safety protocols, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Burks wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report that was issued Saturday night, but coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t committed to playing him tonight at Houston. Burks was able to practice Saturday, but is being considered day-to-day.

“He’s got to get his conditioning up to speed,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s comfortable, we’ll get him in there.”

Burks has been an important part of the Knicks’ progress this year, averaging 12.6 points per game, mostly off the bench, and shooting 40.8% from three-point range. However, the team was able to win six of its seven games while he was sidelined.

“I think it’s one of the strengths of our club in that we do have a deep team,” Thibodeau said.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • It’s been more than a month since Mitchell Robinson had surgery on his broken foot, but he’s still not involved in any basketball activities, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Robinson has missed the last 17 games and isn’t expected back during the regular season, although it’s not clear if the playoffs are a possibility. “I don’t want to put any timetable on it,” Thibodeau said. “To be honest, I don’t know. That would be up to the doctors, the trainers, all the medical people. We don’t want to take any chances with it. So we’re going to be very patient and make sure he’s completely healed before we get him going again.”
  • Immanuel Quickley has started shooting from several feet beyond the three-point line, which doesn’t bother his coach, Bondy adds in the same piece. “I don’t want to put a lid on it,” Thibodeau said. “… We want him to read the defense. When he has an opening, sometimes in transition those are the best looks that he’ll get. Particularly when teams are blitzing him. So we have a lot of confidence in his shooting. That’s his gift.”
  • In a separate story, Braziller looks at what the Knicks will have to do for the rest of the regular season to avoid a play-in game. New York is currently fourth in the East with a game and a half lead over the seventh-place Heat.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Knicks, Jordan, Burks, Birch

Nets superstar James Harden still isn’t close to returning from a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss 11 straight games, Brian Lewis writes for the New York Post. Harden has taken minor steps in his recovery, but hasn’t done any high-intensity work.

“He’s here with us traveling,” coach Steve Nash said of Harden. “He was shooting (Tuesday) morning and just starting to build up what his capacity is. He’s not doing any high-intensity stuff, but he’s shooting and doing all his strength and rehabilitation work.

“So positive signs there, but still, I think, a ways to go.”

Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season, Brooklyn currently holds the best record in the Eastern Conference at 42-20. The team will be seeking its fourth straight win in a road game against the Pacers on Thursday night.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Anthony Olivieri of details the Knicks‘ secret pursuit of Bulls legend Michael Jordan during his playing days. Jordan ultimately bypassed joining New York, spending 13 seasons with Chicago and two seasons with Washington.
  • Knicks guard Alec Burks has rejoined the team after a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the club announced on social media. Burks has averaged 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds in 44 contests (25.8 MPG) this season, but has missed the team’s last six games.
  • Raptors center Khem Birch has fit in well with his new club in limited time, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Birch most recently finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in a win over the Cavaliers, playing well on both ends of the floor. “He’s been a good factor here,” coach Nick Nurse said postgame. “I thought he was solid, too, defensively. I can remember maybe one double-team he went a little too quick on that they cut back door on us, but other than that, he was pretty mistake-free down there, too. So good game for him. He’s stringing ’em (together), playing well.”

New York Notes: Burks, Brunson, James, Nets Roster

Knicks guard Alec Burks has been placed on the league’s health and safety protocols list, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Burks is coming off a 21-point outing against New Orleans on Wednesday.

Burks has exceeded all expectations since the Knicks signed him to a one-year, $6MM contract, having averaged 12.6 PPG on 40.8% shooting beyond the arc in 25.8 minutes per contest. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, but the club has plenty of cap room and will try to retain him, Berman writes in a separate story.

We have more on the Knicks and Nets:

  • The Knicks have their eyes on Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, according to Berman, though he won’t hit free agency until after next season. Dallas needs only to guarantee his contract this summer, a modest $1.8MM, to hold onto him for one more year.
  • Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, is under consideration as a possible Knicks assistant, Berman writes in the same story. The elder Brunson served under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota but left the Timberwolves amid allegations of workplace misconduct. He’s currently coaching Camden HS in New Jersey.
  • After allowing big man John Henson‘s 10-day deal to expire, the Knicks might add to their backcourt instead of pursuing another center, according to Berman. Euro standout and former NBA point man Mike James is one of the players the team is considering. James was recently suspended by CSKA Moscow after an altercation with his coach and returned to the U.S., though he’s still technically under contract with the Russian team.
  • With the abrupt retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge due to a heart condition, Nets GM Sean Marks is mulling all options regarding a roster move, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The team is “doing due diligence” and hasn’t decided whether to bring in another big man or add depth elsewhere.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Drummond, Robinson, Ntilikina

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for preferring veterans over young players and other future assets, but he indicated the organization might not take that approach this year, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks have exceeded expectations so far, holding a 21-21 record that has them tied for sixth place in the East. Although there’s temptation to add talent to end a long playoff drought, Thibodeau suggested the team is willing to take a long-term approach.

“It’s important for us to go step-by-step and not skip over things,’’ he said. “The whole goal this year is to build a foundation and the right type of habits. Wherever that leads us, it leads us. Our players have responded. In this league, you’re always looking for player development first, then look at the draft and free agency, then trades. You never stop working in all four areas. Every day it’s how can we make the team better. That’s where our focus lies with coaches, front office and players. We’re all tied together. We’re going to do what’s best for the Knicks.’’

Berman notes that two of the most prominent names the Knicks have been tied to — Rockets guard Victor Oladipo and Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball — will be free agents this summer and may be obtainable without breaking up the young core.

There’s more from New York:

  • Andre Drummond could be worth watching if he reaches a buyout with the Cavaliers, Berman adds in the same story, but there’s “mutual disinterest” between the Knicks and Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays the same position as Julius Randle.
  • Center Mitchell Robinson could be back Sunday after missing 15 games with a broken hand, but he may not rejoin the starting lineup right away, Berman states in a separate story. Nerlens Noel has been effective in his place, and Robinson may return on a minutes restriction. “I want to see how that goes,” Thibodeau said. “There’s great versatility there. Eventually, he’ll get back to starting. Whether that happens right away or down the road … I’m comfortable with both guys in that role. And I’m really comfortable with Taj (Gibson) as well. That gives us great depth at that position.”
  • Frank Ntilikina, who’s on the final year of his rookie contract and will have a $15.6MM cap hold if he receives a qualifying offer, seems to be the most likely Knicks player to be traded, according to Steve Popper of NewsdayAlec Burks, Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton all have expiring contracts, but an Eastern Conference scout told Popper their trade value is limited to a second-round pick apiece.

Injury Updates: Burks, Lecque, MCW, Haliburton

Veteran guard Alec Burks, who has missed the Knicks‘ last four games due to a sprained left ankle, underwent further testing on that ankle and is now in a walking boot, according to the team (Twitter link). He’ll be re-evaluated in about 7-10 days.

It’s an unfortunate setback for Burks, who scored 22 points in each of the Knicks’ first two games and had already racked up 18 points in 21 minutes when he was injured on December 27. However, the club has managed to win four of five games since he suffered that ankle injury (including the one he left early).

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Pacers guard Jalen Lecque has suffered a Grade 2 left ankle sprain and has been ruled out indefinitely, the team announced in a press release. Lecque, acquired by Indiana in an offseason trade, will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
  • Michael Carter-Williams has been diagnosed with a mild bone bruise and a sprained ligament in his left foot, according to the Magic (Twitter link). Carter-Williams has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland and may miss additional time — his return will depend on how he responds to treatment, per the team.
  • Kings rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has missed the team’s last two games due to a bone bruise in his left wrist, has been upgraded to questionable for Wednesday’s contest against Chicago, tweets Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Even if Haliburton isn’t able to play tonight, it sounds like he’s close to a return.

Knicks Notes: Burks, Rivers, Dolan, Barrett

Alec Burks could join the Knicks‘ starting lineup soon after an impressive performance Wednesday in his first game with the team, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Signed during the offseason, Burks poured in 22 points in 32 minutes. Reggie Bullock got the start at shooting guard because Burks missed the last two preseason games for the birth of a child, but coach Tom Thibodeau is thinking about converting Burks to a starter.

“It’s a possibility,’’ Thibodeau said. “I like the scoring punch he gives us off the bench. He’s sort of great to have because of the versatility. The ability to be a secondary ball-handler, at times playing the point. Scoring the ball, guarding down a position. He’s got a lot of toughness to him. He’ll have significant role, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench.’’

The idea of using Burks at point guard is a sign that Thibodeau hasn’t developed confidence in Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr., Berman notes. Burks teamed with RJ Barrett in the backcourt for a while in the opener after rookie Immanuel Quickley suffered a hip pointer.

“I’m trying to get more chemistry,’’ Burks said. “We don’t have so much practice time. I’m trying to learn everybody, and that was the main thing I was happy about it. Learning everybody’s tendencies and where they like to be on the court.’’

There’s more from New York City:

  • There’s still no timetable for Austin Rivers‘ first game with the Knicks, but the free agent addition is making some progress in his return from a groin injury, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Rivers participated in a light practice Thursday, and the team plans to be careful after he missed almost the entire training camp.
  • Kevin Durant‘s early-season performance makes the Knicks’ decision not to offer him a maximum contract look like the latest mistake from owner James Dolan, contends Adam Zagoria of Forbes. New York had enough cap room for two max deals in July of 2019, but Dolan was hesitant to offer full max money because Durant had just ruptured his Achilles tendon.
  • Fans won’t be permitted to start the season at Madison Square Garden, which Barrett believes might help the home team, Berman adds in a separate story. “Actually having no fans might be an advantage,’’ Barrett said. “I know if I was a competitor, coming into the Garden, with all those fans, I’d want to have a great game. So coming in there with no fans actually probably gives us an advantage that way too.”

New York Notes: Rivers, Burks, Chiozza, Allen, Johnson

New Knicks guard Austin Rivers drew interest from multiple suitors in free agency, including many who are closer to championship contention than New York. However, Rivers said this week that he jumped at the opportunity to play in the “mecca of basketball” and to try to build “something special” with his new club.

“It’s easy to go somewhere where everything already is set up and they’ve been to the playoffs four, five years in a row,” Rivers said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’ve been on those teams. Those are great experiences. But I want to take those experiences and lessons and help this team and this organization as many ways as possible. That era of people not wanting to come here, our job is to change that. We have to make that attractive. And we will.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two teams based in New York:

  • The presence of former Jazz executive Walt Perrin and former Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant in New York helped convince Alec Burks to sign with the Knicks in free agency, as Berman details in a separate New York Post story.
  • Chris Chiozza‘s new one-year contract with the Nets is a non-guaranteed training camp contract, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Brooklyn has 14 players on guaranteed contracts and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on a partially guaranteed deal, so Chiozza will have an uphill battle to earn a regular season roster spot.
  • Jarrett Allen is entering a contract year and has been mentioned in trade rumors throughout the year, creating some uncertainty about his future with the Nets. The fourth-year center is trying to shut out that speculation and focus on what he can control, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “At the end of the day, I just try to put it aside,” Allen said. “I know it’s big decisions, deciding where I’m playing or deciding whatever happens at the end of the day. It’s all basketball at the end of the day, whether I’m happy about what happens or not happy. It’s all basketball and I’m here to play it.”
  • Newly re-signed Nets guard Tyler Johnson said there were “definitely other teams and other opportunities” for him in free agency, but that he has appreciated GM Sean Marks‘ transparency and wants to compete for a title in Brooklyn. Chris Milholen of NetsDaily has the story.

Knicks Sign Alec Burks To One-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 22: The Knicks have officially signed Burks, the team announced today in a press release.

NOVEMBER 20: The Knicks have made their first free agent deal of 2020/21, having agreed to sign guard Alec Burks to a one-year, $6MM contract, agent Alex Saratsis tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

New York has approximately $37MM to spend in free agency if chooses to do so and Burks is the first reported agreement.

Signing Burks on a one-year contract helps to preserve New York’s cap room for next offseason. He played a combined 66 games last season for the Warriors and 76ers, averaging 15.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 2.9 APG in those contests. Burks is a career 36.4% 3-point shooter and should emerge as a rotation piece for the Knicks next season.

Burks has a history with Knicks assistant GM Walt Perrin, Ian Begley of SNY TV notes (Twitter link). Perrin was in Utah’s front office when the Jazz drafted Burks in 2011.

Atlantic Notes: Bullock, Harris, Richardson, Horford, Raptors

Knicks guard Reggie Bullock has a team-friendly, non-guaranteed $4.2MM contract for next season and there are good reasons to retain him, including his friendship with Chris Paul, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Bullock provides a veteran presence along with his reputation for being a 3-and-D wing. New York would still take a cap hit of $1MM if it doesn’t guarantee Bullock’s contract prior to free agency. Bullock’s close friendship with Paul, a potential trade target for his former agent and current Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, also works in his favor.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets can’t afford to let wing Joe Harris in free agency, Mike Mazzeo of opines. The Nets own Harris’ Bird rights, so they can make him a substantial offer even if it pushes them deeper into luxury tax territory. If they let him walk, they’d only have the taxpayers’ mid-level exception to replace him. Brooklyn is expected to have competition for Harris’ services with estimates that it would need to offer Harris a $15MM starting salary to retain him.
  • Josh Richardson and Al Horford will be traded this offseason, The Athletic duo of Rich Hofmann and Derek Bodner project in an examination of the Sixers‘ roster. In other predictions, they believe young defensive stalwart Matisse Thybulle could be added a trade sweetener in a deal involving Richardson or Horford, while Alec Burks will leave in free agency.
  • San Diego State guard Malachi Flynn and Kansas guard Devon Dotson worked out for the Raptors on Sunday, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated tweets. Colorado forward Tyler Bey also worked out for Toronto, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News tweets. In ESPN’s ranking of best available prospects, Bey is slotted at No. 28 with Dotson at No. 33 and Flynn at No. 38. The Raptors own the No. 29 pick.