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 former 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 the 2013-14 season. 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."

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