Alec Burks has made it clear that even in this deeply afflicted season he enjoys being a Warrior and is interested in remaining beyond his one-year contract, to see what it’s like to play with the fully restored roster expected to grace the court next October.
And he’d be good to have around. He’s a versatile wing, a proven scorer, a mature presence and would be fabulous as part of a revamped second unit.
To understand why, consider the work he put in Monday night in Portland: 33 points (team-high) on 11-of-23 shooting, including 2-of-6 from deep and 9-of-9 from the line; eight assists, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 39 minutes.
What contender wouldn’t want someone who can produce that on a $2.32-million salary?
Aside from Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who scored an astonishing 61 points to lead his team to a 129-124 overtime victory, Burks was the best player on the floor.
That performance also provides the kind of video that will raise his already solid stock on the trade market. It puts the Warriors, 17 days before the NBA trade deadline, in the flexible -- and enviable -- position of choice.
They can hold onto Burks and see if they can strike a deal to bring him back.
Or they can move him for future assets, which still seems most likely.
Several teams in recent weeks have expressed interest in Burks, according to league sources, and some have gone so far to scout him. That’s not likely to change. There is demand for veteran, low-maintenance wings unbothered by circumstances and capable of creating offense for both themselves and teammates.
The Warriors, for obvious reasons, continue to be very much involved in trade buzz around the league. The general belief is they’ll make at least one move and maybe two before the noon deadline on Feb. 6.
Burks, with his ability to get buckets, remains their most valuable chip. Glenn Robinson III is a veteran wing, but he lacks the offensive dimension of Burks. Willie Cauley-Stein is a decent veteran center at a time when only exceptional centers are above being interchangeable.
With a 10-35 record and playoff teams Utah (Wednesday) and Indiana (Friday) coming to town, the Warriors likely will maintain their grip on the NBA’s worst record, a status they’ve held most of the season.
Moreover, with or without making a move, the Warriors are a virtual lock to post one of the three worst records in the league, thereby gaining advantageous position for the draft lottery.
There will be many more games like Monday, with the Warriors in it late but fall short down the stretch. That’s the roster they have, and the shortcomings are particularly acute when Draymond Green is sidelined.
“A lot of mistakes down the stretch in the second quarter, and again down the stretch of the game, regulation and overtime,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Moda Center. “I didn’t help the guys out much, I could have done some things better as well, so it was a group effort.
“But they’re competing, they’re playing together, they’re playing hard.”
That’s code for the desire to “build good habits,” an oft-used phrase this season. The goal, however, which went all caps once it was known Steph Curry would miss most of the season, is to audition the majority of the non-rookies on the roster. The only exemptions were known commodities Kevon Looney, who has missed 35 games, and Green, who has missed 13. They’re still exempt, for different reasons.
Everyone else, including D’Angelo Russell, is on trial and subject to discussion. The general belief is that D-Lo is almost certain to be moved but probably not during the season.
Which brings us back to Burks, who is both uncomplicated to deal and coveted. His contract is relatively simple to absorb.
The Warriors have 17 days to make decisions that will impact next year and beyond much more than this year.
Though it would be nice to have Burks on the bench when Klay Thompson and Curry are healthy, the Warriors might feel he is even more valuable now than he might be then.