Alec Burks

Pacific Notes: Burks, Suns, Clippers, LeBron

Shooting guard Alec Burks originally thought he would be helping Paul George and Russell Westbrook take the Thunder to the promised land in 2019/20. But things change quickly in the NBA. Burks signed a one-year, $2.3MM veteran’s minimum contract with the Warriors this summer after Oklahoma City let out Burks of his deal once the team opted to rebuild following its trade of George to the Clippers.

Burks has been stuffing the stat sheet lately for an injury-depleted Golden State. And his efforts (including tallying 29 points and pulling down eight rebounds in 114-95 win over the Grizzlies this past Tuesday) have not gone unnoticed, as Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.

“I definitely knew he could score,” three-time All-Star forward and defensive team lynchpin Draymond Green told Murdock. “When he’s been on any team, he comes off the bench and he gets it going. Going downhill, getting to the basket and I think he’s definitely improved his jump shot.” On such a favorable deal, Burks could serve as a spark plug bench shooter for a contender this spring.

There’s more news from around the Pacific:

  • In an excellent piece on the upstart Suns, The Athletic’s John Hollinger notes that the team, currently 8-7, has reason to be optimistic about their season outlook. Hollinger suggests that, with several teams amongst the 2018/19 Western Conference playoff crop already off to rocky starts, the conference feels wide open. A postseason berth is hardly off the question for the team, which has seen ample improvement after adding Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes this summer, not to mention new head coach Monty Williams and incumbent star shooting guard Devin Booker. Hollinger credits Rubio as a big component to the team’s current two-way improvement, and Williams as a major culture-setting upgrade.
  • USA Today’s Mark Medina observes that the Clippers have already determined their late-game dynamics with All-NBA forwards Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, their two blockbuster team additions from this offseason. This, of course, spells trouble for the rest of the league. “That’s the beauty of this team. Nobody cares who’s getting the shots down the stretch or who gets the looks,” George noted. “You have a group of guys that just want to win.”
  • After the Lakers eked out a 109-108 win against the Grizzlies yesterday, All-Star forward LeBron James registered his ire at a lack of foul calls in his favor granted by the game’s attendant referees (he had zero free throw attempts). “I’m living in the paint,” James said after the game, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “If you look at my arm right here, these are four or five [scratches] that happened the last two games, and they weren’t called at all.” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel shares James’ frustration, and apparently intends to bring the officiating up with the NBA. “We’ll deal with the proper channels and talk to the league about that,” Vogel said.

Western Notes: Burks, Williams, Doncic

When Alec Burks signed with the Warriors, not many people expected him to play 27.0 minutes per game. Even fewer expected him to be one of the most reliable scorers on the team. However, injuries have opened the door for him to take on a greater role.

“I definitely knew he could score,” Draymond Green said (via Logan Murdock of NBCSports.com). “When he’s been on any team, he comes off the bench and he gets it going. Going downhill, getting to the basket and I think he’s definitely improved his jump shot”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans have endured a bevy of injuries this season and Kenrich Williams has stepped up when they needed him the most, as Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com relays. “He makes winning plays, and that’s why we have to have him on the court,” said coach Alvin Gentry. “So we inserted him back into the lineup. I never even look at his stat line, because he just helps you win basketball games.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details the ever-evolving relationship between Rick Carlisle and Luka Doncic. Some within the league were skeptical that the pairing would work long-term given Carlisle’s propensity to be harsh on point guards, but the Mavericks are confident that the right coach is in place. “When we had people here who didn’t think they needed to learn anything, that’s when we’d run into conflicts,” Owner Mark Cuban said. “Luka is a sponge, on the court and off.”
  • Carlisle believes in Doncic, which wasn’t the case for Dennis Smith Jr. and Rajon Rondo were they were on the Mavericks, MacMahon passes along in the same piece. The ESPN scribe hears that Carlisle expressed concern about Rondo’s fit before the Mavs traded for him.

Pacific Notes: Burks, Leonard, Howard, Giles

Alec Burks doesn’t regret joining the Warriors despite their injury woes, Anthony Slater of The Athletic reports. He originally committed to the Thunder in free agency, then shifted gears when their two stars were traded. Burks signed a one-year deal with Golden State.

“I committed here for other reasons besides playing with those great players. I like the culture. I like (Warriors head coach) Steve (Kerr),” he said. “I like (GM) Bob (Myers). That’s what sold me at first. And I like the people right here that’s playing, that’s healthy. We’ll eventually get those guys back. … I’m glad where I’m at. I’m proud I made a good decision.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard was blindsided by the league revealing the nature of his knee injury while fining the team $50K for making conflicting statements about his health, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays. According to the league statement, Leonard is dealing with a patella tendon issue in his left knee. “I mean it was shocking, but it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m not a guy that reads the media anyway. We’re going to manage it the best way we can to keep me healthy and that’s the most important thing, me being healthy moving forward.”
  • The way the Clippers handled the Leonard load management controversy may have been sloppy but it showed that the organization has his back, Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic opine. The Clippers are trying to follow the Raptors’ blueprint to success, which includes giving Leonard a number of nights off.
  • Dwight Howard has emerged a legitimate candidate for the Sixth Man award, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype writes. Not only has Howard been a force with the Lakers’ second unit, he’s also blended surprisingly well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, according to statistical measures, Kalbrosky adds. Howard, working on a non-guaranteed contract, is averaging 6.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 2.1 BPG in 21.7 MPG.
  • Kings center Harry Giles was medically cleared to play just prior to the team’s game against the Hawks on Friday, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. Giles had been sidelined by left knee soreness. Giles, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season since the team declined its 2020/21 option on him, scored four points in eight minutes during his season debut.

Hollinger’s Latest: Blazers, Warriors, Load Management

There hasn’t been an NBA trade since mid-July but the Trail Blazers appear to be a prime candidate to make a deal, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Zach Collins‘ shoulder injury, which is expected to cost him most of the season, creates an even bigger need at an already thin position. Journeyman Anthony Tolliver is the only true power forward remaining on the roster, Hollinger notes. The Blazers could also use another small forward in their rotation.

Portland has some desirable assets, including expiring contracts, young players and draft picks, in order to upgrade its forward spots. One offshoot of the Collins injury that the Blazers are playing with smaller, faster lineups and that could prove beneficial.

There’s more from Hollinger:

  • The Warriors may trade one of their free agent additions on expiring contracts in order to add one of their two-way players to the 15-man roster. Golden State is pushed up against the hard cap and could free some money by dealing center Willie Cauley-Stein or guard Alec Burks. Any potential deal involving a free agent signed this summer can’t happen until mid-December.
  • Waiving Marquese Chriss‘ non-guaranteed deal is also a strong possibility for Golden State, considering Chriss has already had his role reduced after a strong preseason. The Warriors have already used up eight of the 45 days on the service clock of two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman and can’t convert either to a standard contract unless they make another move.
  • People who criticize load management fail to realize that the modern game is much more taxing on players’ bodies than in past decades, Hollinger writes. The goal is to maximize the number of high-quality games the player can play and that makes it a sound strategy.

Warriors Notes: Future, Russell, Green, Looney

No matter how poorly this season turns out for the Warriors, the franchise is in good position for the future, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Golden State has seen a nightmarish run of injuries dating back to last year’s NBA Finals, and while none of the currently active players were on the roster last season, the situation gives the front office time to assess what they have before trying to jump back into title contention in 2020/21.

Windhorst notes that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all in the prime of their careers and are under long-term contracts. In addition, the first-round pick the Warriors owe Brooklyn in 2020 is top-20 protected and seems in no danger of conveying. It could wind up high in the lottery and provide another building block for the future. Also, Golden State holds a $17MM trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal that doesn’t expire until July 7, and the franchise has the top source of revenue in the league thanks to a new arena.

The team also has a prime trade asset in D’Angelo Russell, who becomes eligible to be dealt on December 15. Windhorst believes the Warriors can get another first-round pick and at least a role player for Russell, who is in position to be showcased once he returns from an ankle injury. He adds that if no deal can be reached by the trade deadline, Russell should keep his trade value for the summer.

Willie Cauley-Stein and Alec Burks, who signed with Golden State expecting to be part of a playoff team, suddenly look like valuable trade assets as well, Windhorst adds.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Golden State started three rookies for the third consecutive game tonight, and coach Steve Kerr told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that the immediate focus will be on player development. “While we have guys out, we have to try to bring along our young players, help them develop and give them every opportunity to develop into rotation players, maybe even starters,” Kerr said. “If we can do that, that makes this a successful season or half season, however long it is. And we have a leg up when guys get healthy again.”
  • Green, who has a torn ligament in his left index finger, didn’t accompany the team on its current road trip, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He won’t return to action until Monday at the earliest.
  • The Warriors are encouraged by the latest tests on Kevon Looney, who is undergoing treatment for a neuropathic condition, Slater adds (Twitter link). The team believes he will be able to play again this season, but he has been ruled out for the next two weeks.

Cauley-Stein, Burks To Make Warriors Debuts

The Warriors will add some much-needed depth to their rotation on Wednesday night, with center Willie Cauley-Stein and swingman Alec Burks on track to make their season debuts vs. Phoenix, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com.

Cauley-Stein and Burks both signed with Golden State as free agents this summer, but haven’t been able to suit up for the team so far. Cauley-Stein missed all of training camp and the first three regular season games due to a left foot injury, while Burks was recovering from a right ankle sprain.

With Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson sidelined and a hard cap preventing them from adding a 15th player, the Warriors have had to play rookies like Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole big minutes in their first three games. Cauley-Stein and Burks figure to cut into those minutes, assuming they show they’re up to speed.

After getting blown out in their first two games, the Warriors got in the win column on Monday vs. the Pelicans. Cauley-Stein is hopeful that the team can continue to right the ship as more players get healthy and the new additions get acclimated.

“[Draymond Green] already said it, it’s going to take a few games for us to jell,” Cauley-Stein said, per Friedell. “Especially now that me and Alec, this is our first game to get minutes and stuff. For us to really jell, it’s going to take a few games for us to get that pace of how we’re playing. They’re playing extremely fast right now watching, so it’s like a lot of fast-paced learning.”

Warriors Notes: Chriss, McKinnie, Hard Cap, Curry

A few Warriors players have asked general manager Bob Myers to find a spot for Marquese Chriss on the roster, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Chriss made an immediate impact Saturday in Golden State’s first preseason game with eight points, six rebounds and four assists in 13 minutes. He also fills a need for a team that’s dealing with injuries to big men Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein.

But keeping Chriss won’t be easy. The Warriors are severely limited because of a hard cap that came along with the sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell. To hold onto Chriss, they will have to either trade one of their 13 guaranteed salaries or waive Alfonzo McKinnie, whose $1,588,231 contract is non-guaranteed. A two-way deal is theoretically possible, but Chriss didn’t sign an Exhibit 10 contract, so he’d have to clear waivers for that to happen.

“I’ve heard good things, positive things from the coaches,” Chriss said. “I’m just trying to stay open-minded and keep being coached. Whether or not it works out here, I was able to come here and learn some things that I would be able to take other places. I think at the end of the day, my goal was to show them that this was where I should be and put the pressure on them.”

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • McKinnie is engaged in a three-way competition for the starting small forward slot, notes Monte Poole of NBC Bay Area. He’s battling Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, who both signed as free agents over the summer. Poole suggests that McKinnie has the edge because of his experience with the team, but he may have slipped with a poor first preseason game in which he made just one of four 3-pointers and finished at minus-23.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the hard cap and the effects it will have on the Warriors throughout the season. The team is already within $407,257 of the $138,928,000 figure, which means they can’t add a 15th player to the roster until March 3, when a pro-rated minimum salary will become small enough to fit. Slater notes that once that date arrives, Golden State could reach out to Andrew Bogut again when his Australian season is complete.
  • Stephen Curry told reporters today that he hasn’t determined how the NBA’s standoff with China will affect his Under Armour tours of the nation going forward, tweets Logan Murdock of NBC Sports.

Western Notes: McKinnie, Cauley-Stein, Silva, Grant

Willie Cauley-Stein will likely start at center for the Warriors but Kevon Looney will probably play more crunch-time minutes, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Alfonzo McKinnie may get the nod at small forward with Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in reserve, since McKinnie is a high energy player who should mesh well with the backcourt of Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell, Slater continues. However, rookie Eric Paschall is a darkhorse candidate to play down the stretch due to his versatility, Slater adds.

We have from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors preferred Cauley-Stein to DeMarcus Cousins even before Cousins committed to the Lakers, Slater writes in the same mailbag story. Cauley-Stein provided a younger option who better fit their new priorities, according to Slater. However, they never really had a decision to make because they were hard-capped after the sign-and-trade for Russell with the Nets was agreed upon. The hard cap meant the Warriors couldn’t give Cousins a max raise up to $6.4MM, Slater notes. Cauley-Stein agreed to join the Warriors on a two-year contract on July 2 and officially signed on July 8.
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash prospect Marcos Louzada Silva – aka Didi Louzada — has developed a solid perimeter jumper that should translate well to the NBA game, according to a Heavy.com story. The 6’5” guard can also attack the rim and has shown good strides in his development in recent months. Louzada, the 35th overall pick in June who was acquired in a draft-day deal, will play in Australia with the Sydney Kings during the upcoming season.
  • Jerami Grant should be an ideal frontcourt complement to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic opines. Grant, projected as the top big off the bench, is a nimble perimeter defender who can guard ball-handlers. Grant, acquired from the Thunder for a protected first-round pick, is also a solid help defender who can block shots.
  • Jared Cunningham will work out for the Warriors on Tuesday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. Cunningham, a shooting guard who recently worked out for the Rockets, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2015/16 season.

Alec Burks Signs With Warriors

JULY 11: Burks has officially put pen to paper on his deal with the Warriors, the team announced on its Twitter feed.

JULY 8: After initially reaching an agreement with the Thunder early in free agency, guard Alec Burks will instead sign a one-year contract with the Warriors, agent JR Hensley tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Charania explains (via Twitter), since Burks and Mike Muscala agreed to sign with the Thunder before the Paul George trade developed, Oklahoma City allowed both players to re-evaluate their situations, if they so chose. Muscala remains committed to the Thunder, but Burks will head to Golden State instead of OKC.

“Alec was extremely appreciative about how the Thunder handled the situation and he’s looking forward to his new opportunity,” Hensley told Charania.

A former lottery pick, Burks is a career 35.5% three-point shooter and can defend perimeter players, so he figures to become part of Golden State’s wing rotation. Last season, he appeared in a total of 64 games for the Jazz, Cavaliers, and Kings, averaging 8.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 21.5 minutes per contest.

While terms of Burks’ deal weren’t reported, it will almost certainly be a minimum-salary deal, given the Warriors’ cap constraints.

Thunder Re-Sign Nerlens Noel, Agree To Sign Alec Burks

JULY 2, 10:07am: The Thunder have officially re-signed Noel, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Most NBA contracts can’t be finalized during the July moratorium, but one- or two-year minimum-salary deals can, so this strongly suggests that Noel will be returning to Oklahoma City on the veteran’s minimum.

JULY 1, 3:41pm: The Thunder are once again in agreement on a deal for big man Nerlens Noel, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Noel and the Thunder appeared to reach a deal early in free agency, but a follow-up report indicated that the center wanted to reconsider things.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has also agreed to sign free agent shooting guard Alec Burks, a league source tells Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Terms of the two deals aren’t yet known, and neither is the Thunder’s agreement with Mike Muscala, which was reported on Sunday. However, OKC entered the offseason with limited resources at its disposal to upgrade its roster, so it’s probably safe to assume that the team won’t be paying big money for any of its three new rotation pieces.

Noel, who served primarily as Steven Adams‘ backup at center last season, averaged 4.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.2 BPG in 77 games (13.7 MPG). Depending on what other moves the Thunder make, he could play a similar role this year, though it’s possible that Muscala’s arrival will eat into his minutes.

As for Burks, the former lottery pick is a career 35.5% three-point shooter, so he may be able to provide Oklahoma City with some much-needed floor spacing. Last season, he appeared in a total of 64 games for the Jazz, Cavaliers, and Kings, averaging 8.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 21.5 minutes per contest.