Knicks are targeting familiar guard to improve bench scoring ahead of trade deadline

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the Knicks looking to add some much-needed scoring to their bench, they’re targeting a familiar face on the trade market. Alec Burks, who is currently with the Detroit Pistons, is a player that the Knicks are expected to ‘remain engaged on’ according to Ian Begley of SNY. The veteran guard has played 42 games this season exclusively off the bench, averaging 12.3 points a game while shooting 39.2% from three. While not an effective scorer inside the perimeter, his ability to handle the basketball and galvanize an offense with his three-point shot presents plenty of value for New York.

It’s expected that Burks, who is entering the final year of his contract, could be moved ahead of the February 8th Trade Deadline, and the Knicks could avoid paying an exhoborrant price for such an addition to their roster.

Is Alec Burks a Solution for the Knicks’ Bench?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers
Jan 31, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Alec Burks (14) shoots beside Cleveland Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro (35) in the fourth quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY SportsCredit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks adored Alec Burks in his brief stint with the team, as he was a huge part of their perimeter offense while providing some defensive versatility as well. Those skills still remain, ranking in the 70th Percentile in Positional Versatility on defense and ranking in the 83rd Percentile in Points per Possession. While the Detroit Pistons have been putrid, Burks has found a way to remain a consistent and reliable three-point shooter, and most importantly he can create his own looks from beyond the arc.

Adding some shooting to their bench, Alec Burks could be a legitimate scorer for the Knicks and allow them to have a reliable sixth man who could come off the bench and give relief to their starters. His ability to provide spacing and gravity while on the court creates for a brilliant offensive presence and fit among any unit, especially their bench where they lack an aggressive shot-taker who can take control of a game. When looking at his fit alongside guys like Josh Hart, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride, the fit could be remarkable.

Miles McBride, New York Knicks
Dec 14, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Defense has become the calling card for this Knicks’ team, and their bench has remained an excellent defensive unit even after losing Immanuel Quickley. Miles McBride has emerged as an elite three-point shooter, hitting 44.7% of his attempts on 2.5 attempts a game, kicking it into a different gear since being re-insterted into the rotation. He’s averaging 45.5% from downtown on 4.1 attempts a night, but he’s more of a catch-and-shoot option than a pull-up shooter, and Burks would create more looks for him in those situations.

While playing Alec Burks at point guard proved to be disasterous a couple of years back, making him a primary ballhandler at the two could potentially provide the exact offensive mold they’re searching for. As the Knicks continue to search for scoring off the bench, having someone who could create an air barrage for the team in scoring droughts would prevent them from being run off the court when they don’t have Jalen Brunson. Perhaps they look to make an addition on top of Burks, but he could serve as their sole addition as well.

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden
Jan 25, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Things are progressing better for OG Anunoby although he still remains out, and the team is confident that Julius Randle will return during the regular season. If the Knicks can get both stars back, they’ll be in great position to make a push in the postseason. Messing with the starting five given their success would be nonsensical, and the emergence of Precious Achiuwa makes it hard to change much in their bench unit beyond adding an additional scorer.

Perhaps a trade of Quentin Grimes could trade things, but it seems more likely that they keep him over trading him in a deal for a player like Alec Burks who is only a rental. As the Knicks continue to search for help, it’s becoming increasingly likely that they go for a ‘perfect’ addition instead of making a flurry of moves instead. The trade deadline could shape up to be inactive anyways, as players like Malcolm Brogdon are growing increasingly likely to remain on their current teams.

Alec Burks may not be a superstar, but he is a familiar face that could seamlessly fit into their system while also not costing much on the trade market.

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