Alec Burks delivers again but what is his future with Knicks?

Almost gone at the trade deadline, Alec Burks continues to prove his worth for the New York Knicks.

Maybe not as their starting point guard for next season but as a veteran leader in a Taj Gibson-like ‘break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency’ role if he stays.

Burks made a three-pointer and game-sealing defensive gem for the second straight day to extend the Knicks’ winning streak to a season-high four after escaping the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls, 109-04, Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Immanuel Quickley, whose growth as a playmaker has been a revelation, found Burks in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer that gave the Knicks a four-point cushion, 107-104, with 22 seconds left. Then Burks drew a charge from a driving DeMar DeRozan to kill any chance of a Bulls’ comeback.

“He’s been big-time,” Barrett said of Burks. “Back-to-back big-time games for AB, and we needed it. So, I’m always happy to have him on our team.”

Burks also hit a clutch three-pointer and stripped Detroit’s super-rookie Cade Cunningham for the game-sealing steal a day earlier in Detroit. The 30-year old guard has been a steady presence for the Knicks in their last eight games, scoring in double-digits. The Knicks went 6-2 over that stretch, with Burks averaging 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while hitting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Bulls, he hit 5 of 10 three-pointers.

“Alec got going. He was terrific,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Burks was nearly shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline, and Cam Reddish in a three-team swap with the Toronto Raptors. But the deal reportedly fell through because of the Knicks’ insistence to get an additional pick on top of Goran Dragic and the Raptors’ 2023 first-round pick. Nerlens Noel and Talen Horton-Tucker were supposed to go to the Raptors.

As fate would have it, Burks remained with the Knicks and won the Knicks two games during their late surge that may have come a little too late. The Atlanta Hawks maintained a 4.5-game lead with their win over the Indiana Pacers last night with only seven games left. Nonetheless, the strides of the Knicks’ young core, with a sprinkle of Burks’ steady play, had been a massive development for the organization.

The big-time question now for big-time AB is where does his future lie? Next season, his role with the Knicks is murky, with Derrick Rose expected to return and the front office setting its sights on Jalen Brunson. The growth of Quickley as a playmaker and the emergence of Quentin Grimes at the wings makes Burks expendable.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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