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 guard Paul George to the LA Clippers, teaming him with former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
The move's ripple effect doomed Burks' future in Oklahoma City - where he agreed to a one-year deal 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 Golden State, forcing 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 - choosing Oklahoma over the Warriors - to chase allure of joining the duo of George and Russell Westbrook. Now with Golden State, the appeal of a starting role appeals to the eight-year veteran.
"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 inhibits - which has seen six of the 15 All-NBA players from last year on different teams this summer - Burks finds himself his career in transition. Drafted 12th - a pick after Warriors guard Klay Thompson - in the 2011 NBA draft, Burks averaged 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his first XX seasons with the Jazz. In 2014, he signed a four year, $42 million extension with Utah. However, ankle injuries derailed his career, with stress fractures limiting him to just 100 games in three seasons. Last season, he was traded three times, finishing the year with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 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."
As Burks tries to crack Golden State's starting lineup, the team will navigate the first season in five years without championship expectations. Thompson - Golden State's second-best 3-point - is expected to be out until midseason with a torn ACL, while the Warriors attempt to integrate XX 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."