After playing his first seven seasons with the Utah Jazz, Alec Burks has gone to his fourth team in the last calendar year. The Colorado Buffaloes star has signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as first reported by Royce Young of ESPN. The details of the contract have not been reported, although OKC is capped out so it’s most likely for the veteran’s minimum.
Burks has been a 6th man most of his NBA career as he has only started 67 of his 429 games played — 24 of those starts were with the abysmal Cleveland Cavaliers last year. That should hold true with the Thunder, where they are desperate for depth. He will immediately step in as their best wing off the bench. He’s not exactly a sniper from deep, but he’s a career 35.5% three-point shooter that will help OKC’s never-ending spacing issues. His slashing and playmaking abilities are Burks’ calling card as a crucial bench player.
Burks will join forces with Andre Roberson, his former teammate at CU. Roberson missed all of 2018-19 with a knee injury he suffered in January 2018. He will return to action this coming year, but it’s unclear if he’s going to be the same player. If he comes back the same — and that’s a huge ‘if’, unfortunately — he would likely start at the 2-guard alongside Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Jerami Grant and Stevens Adams.
Roberson returning would move Terrence Ferguson to the bench after starting all of last year. Ferguson will be a third-year player who the Thunder drafted from the Adelaide 36ers; Ferguson was a top recruit out of high school and was headed for Arizona, but he opted to get paid (more) in Australia. He’s probably Burks’ biggest competitor for minutes, although the Thunder are so thin that both players will be essential to their rotation.
Elsewhere, OKC only has Abdel Nader, Hamidou Diallo and Darius Bazley as wing depth. Nader is a good shooter, but he shouldn’t be anything more than a 10th man on a good team. Diallo is fun and exciting, but he’s still very raw. Bazley was their first round pick, but he’s raw and hasn’t played live basketball in over a year after eschewing Syracuse for a paid internship at New Balance.
In a wide open Western Conference, the Thunder could seriously contend. Signing Burks and having back Roberson are crucial for their success.