Alec Burks has chance to earn big role with Warriors in transition


Alec Burks has chance to earn big role with Warriors in transition

OAKLAND -- Alec Burks was at his Kansas City home when a friend alerted him that his newest team -- the Oklahoma City Thunder -- traded away their star wing Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, teaming him with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. 

The move's ripple effect doomed Burks' future in Oklahoma City, where he had agreed to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum. After the Thunder allowed Burks to back out of his deal following the trade, he signed a one-year, veteran's minimum deal with the Warriors.

Now, Burks is primed to compete for Golden State's starting small forward position. 

"The league has been wild," Burks said Friday afternoon at the Warriors' downtown Oakland facility. "It's been a wild, wild summer." 

Burks joins Golden State as the franchise enters a transition of its own.

Two weeks ago, star forward Kevin Durant decided to join the Brooklyn Nets, facilitating a sign-and-trade that brought All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell to the Bay Area and forced the Warriors to part with veteran leader Andre Iguodala to facilitate the deal. With two of their top wings gone, Golden State is expected to have a three-player competition for the starting small forward role.

Two weeks ago, Burks agreed to a deal with the Thunder to join the duo of George and Russell Westbrook. Now, both George and Westbrook will begin the 2019-20 season outside of Oklahoma City and Burks has a chance to fill a major void for the Warriors on the wing.

"Nobody can replace an MVP, Hall of Famer like that, so it's a collective effort," Burks said. "I saw that and feel like there's an opportunity, and that drove the decision."  

Like the league he inhabits -- which has seen six of the 15 All-NBA players from last year join different teams this summer -- Burks finds his career in transition. The Utah Jazz selected Burks 12th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft -- a pick after Klay Thompson -- and Burks averaged 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in his first five seasons with the Jazz. He signed a four-year, $42 million with the Jazz in 2014, before ankle injuries began to derail his career. 

A series of stress fractures limited Burks to just 100 games from 2014 through 2016, and he has not played at least 75 games in a season since 2013-14. Last year, Burks was traded three times and finished year with the Kings. In 13 games with Sacramento, he averaged just 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists. 

"It just a whirlwind," Burks said. "I've never been traded before and to get traded twice, but it was just a whirlwind."

[RELATED: Why Barkley believes Dubs will struggle to make playoffs]

As Burks tries to crack Golden State's starting lineup, the team will navigate the first season in five years without championship expectations -- from the outside, at least. Thompson is expected to be out until midseason with a torn ACL, while the Warriors attempt to integrate eight new players into their roster. Still, Burks believes the transition will be smooth. 

"I think I just benefit from being out here," Burks said. "Being here and playing winning basketball like this. I don't think I've ever been a part of a tradition like this, Just coming here with championship aspirations. It's different and it should be fun."

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

The NBA is a players' league. 

For nearly a decade, the league at large has been trying to curtail that notion. In the latest effort, the NBA has proposed new rules, including a fine of $10 million for teams caught tampering with potential free agents, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN. 

The proposal comes two months after $1.4 billion in contract terms were agreed to 90 minutes into free agency, all but proving teams and players had agreements prior to the June 30 moratorium period. Such players included Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who were reported to have agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets hours before free agency period began. 

Nine years ago, LeBron James sat in the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. and -- with the sports world in the palm of his hand -- announced his intention to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, marking the biggest shift to player empowerment since Curt Flood fought for MLB free agency in the 1970s. The move opened the door for players to determine their own futures on a level not seen, to the point that even the league's newest overtures won't help. 

The NBA's latest attempt to stifle player movement is wide-ranging. According to the memo obtained by ESPN, the proposal includes prohibiting players from influencing other players to request trades and random audits on teams to "assess compliance." Additionally, a requirement would be put in place that requires teams to report any instance of a player or representative asking for extra benefits within 24 hours. 

The NBA's newest proposal is in response largely to the recent open recruiting of free agents from former Lakers executive Magic Johnson. In 2017, Johnson alluded to his recruitment of upcoming free agent Paul George during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Paul, then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was considering the Lakers in free agency. Though rules forbid Magic to openly recruit George, he did so anyway. 

“We going to say hi because we know each other, you just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’" Johnson said. "Even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’”

Johnson was fined a league-record $500,000 and George signed with the Thunder. Though the league's proposal is aimed at curtailing further actions like Johnson's, it does little to help with player-on-player recruitment. Thirteen years ago -- during the 2006 World Championships -- Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, each a member of a different team, openly pondered the idea of playing together. Each signed short-term deals with their teams to become free agents in 2010, subsequently signing with the Heat in free agency. 

Will the new rules actually prohibit players from doing it again? Probably not. 

No rules are going to stop a player's will under the current landscape. Take Kevin Durant's free agency this summer. Before signing, Durant hadn't met with any executive nor toured any of the Brooklyn Nets facilities, but said he wanted to sign regardless. 

[RELATED: Durant still searching for what slipped from time with Warriors]

The biggest proposal would be for teams to self-report any agent asking for extra benefits. Not sure that could work, considering teams would run the risk of turning off top-flight talent by outing a player's inner circle. 

The NBA is now a player's league, thanks to LeBron James, and even with the current set of rules in place, it doesn't seem like that power struggle will be changing anytime soon. 

Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala planned to be math teacher before NBA career

Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala planned to be math teacher before NBA career

Andre Iguodala has made a respectful name for himself in the NBA.

Across eight seasons, he’s earned just one All-Star selection, but he did help lead the Warriors to three NBA championships and even earned MVP honors during the Finals of the 2014-15 season.

But was this always his dream? To be a well-known name in a professional sport? 

Not necessarily. 

Believe it or not, Iggy figured he would be a teacher when he grew up.

“I come from a small town [Springfield, Illinois], and no one knew who I was,” Iguodala told Fast Company’s Claire Miller. “I thought I would go to college and become a math teacher. I remember joking around in practice and my coach was like, “You know there are NBA scouts here,” and I said, “What does that have to do with me?” He said, “Well, who do you think they’re here to see?”

That humbleness remained throughout his career. He even mentioned he received advice at one point from a coach who said to take more shots than pass. But he’s a team player, he’s happy to pass the ball to others.

Iguodala was acquired by the Memphis Grizzlies in July via trade for cash and a 2024 first-round draft pick. 

[RELATED: Warriors reveal jerseys ahead of 2019-20 season]

But just imagine … Andre Iguodala, the math teacher. Crazy. Err, Mr. Iguodala. Perhaps Professor Iguodala? 

It appears the journey he chose is working for him, however.