Knicks could have a reunion with proficient bench scorer according to insider

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

The Knicks are looking to add scoring depth to their bench, and according to Ian Begley, a reunion could be on the horizon at the deadline. Alec Burks, who the Knicks acquired in an in-season trade with the 76ers during the 2020-2021 season, is ‘squarely’ on the Knicks’ radar according to the NBA insider, and he could provide the shot creation the Knicks are searching for in their second unit.

A sharpshooter with positional versatility, Burks is familiar with Tom Thibodeau’s system and could be an instant spark for their bench unit on offense while providing versatility on the floor.

Bench Scoring is a Focus for the Knicks

Mar 9, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) drives to the basket as New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during the first quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Burks has been wasting away on a terrible Detroit Pistons squad, as the 32-year-old guard has averaged 12.7 points per game off the bench on a 58.2% True Shooting% over 35 games. While his Field Goal% looks alarming on the surface (39.7%) it should be noted that most of his shots come from beyond the arc, which is why his efficiency is closer to league average than people think. Burks is excellent beyond the arc, hitting them 40.3% of the time while taking 5.7 attempts a game.

The Knicks could use someone to help space the floor off the bench and create more space to operate, and Alec Burks is a scorer that opposing defenses would have to respect. Furthermore, his versatility at multiple positions means that he can slot into their starting lineup and provide floor spacing in situations where there’s an injury. It was a disastrous experiment but the Knicks have even played him at point guard, however, this time around there’s likely no need for the team to try that again.

Standing at 6’6, the Knicks could also run Burks at the four, with a unit consisting of Miles McBridge, Quentin Grimes, Josh Hart, Alec Burks, and Precious Achiuwa at times, and that would certainly give New York the competent bench that they’ve been desperately searching for. The Knicks are also expected to deal Quentin Grimes ahead of the trade deadline, and while Burks isn’t leaps-and-bounds better than Grimes, the fit is significantly better due to his shot creation and consistency.

New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) shoots in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Oct 31, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) shoots in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Considering that Alec Burks has an expiring contract, I highly doubt that the Knicks would need to part ways with Quentin Grimes to acquire him, and his salary doesn’t match with Evan Fournier’s, so perhaps the Knicks will look for a second player from the Pistons that they can immediately waive. With New York’s roster at just 14, they can pull off a two-for-one swap and maybe even acquire a player with multiple years of control in hopes of using them as salary-filler in a deal.

A notable concern would be that the Knicks would lose a $20 million salary-filler for a big deal down the road, as if they were to bring back Burks they would have to wait until next year’s deadline to trade him. The fit for their roster makes sense, Burks is in the 70th Percentile in Points per Possession, and the Knicks could use the scoring, but they may need to make a move for a player in order to add more salary-filler to their roster.

Bruce Brown was also mentioned by Ian Begley and could be a name the Knicks trade for alongside Alec Burks, although neither player would be valued at the price point of Quentin Grimes. Leon Rose has his work cut out for him this deadline, as he tries to make upgrades on the roster without taking a huge hit to their chances of acquiring a star this summer.