Knicks: Could bringing in Shake Milton mean less minutes for struggling Alec Burks?

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets, shake milton, knicks

The New York Knicks got busy in the buyout market Saturday, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that guard Shake Milton is expected to sign with the team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons. Milton will also be eligible for the playoff roster.

Bringing in Milton enhances the Knicks’ guard depth in the wake of their recent injury plague, and he provides solid shot-creating abilities and can improve the spacing that they’ve lacked in recent weeks.

The Milton signing comes amidst a bad stretch for Alec Burks

Something that is worth noting is that his addition comes as backup guard Alec Burks has struggled tremendously since returning to the Knicks at the trade deadline.

Burks has been ineffective on both ends of the floor, honing a plus-minus rating of -34 and shooting just 31% from the floor in the eight games since coming over in a trade with the Pistons. During that stretch the Knicks are just 2-6, making the move to sign Milton a clear indicator of an added sense of urgency.

Milton could provide a positive impact on the Knicks’ bench

Milton had a disappointing season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging just four points and shooting only 27% from three, but has shown the capability to be a reliable bench option on a good team. In the 2020-21 season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Milton averaged 13 points and shot 45% from the floor and 35% from three while playing 59 of his 63 games played off the bench.

Milton is not expected to be a large contributor to the Knicks’ playoff roster, but his services will be very much needed in the interim with the shorthanded roster, and he could play his way into an important role for the postseason over the final month of the regular season, especially if Burks’ struggles continue.

While the team still hasn’t got to see what the Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic acquisitions look like with a fully healthy roster, they can’t afford to take a wait-and-see for Burks to turn it around, as they are currently just one game ahead of the seventh-seeded Orlando Magic. Therefore, the Knicks should give Milton an opportunity to provide the spark that they desperately need coming out of the second unit.

Will Tom Thibodeau expand to a 10-man rotation?

It will be interesting to see how head coach Tom Thibodeau makes room for Milton in the rotation. The logical way to do so would be to expand the rotation to 10 players and cut Burks’ minutes down. Miles McBride has played well enough on both sides of the ball to which he is deserving of increased burn, so it wouldn’t make much sense if they cut his usage during this period.

A reduced role for Burks could also motivate the veteran to perform better in time for the postseason, which could give them endless options to choose from when it comes to their bench pieces by then.

Ultimately, the hope is that Milton will be able to provide the positive impact they have yet to see out of Burks and re-ignite the Knicks into winning more games.

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