Earlier in the offseason, Ian Begley of ESPN reported that the Knicks were considering Jarrett Jack and Trey Burke amongst their available veteran guard options. Upon signing Jack, it appeared as though New York preferred giving the elder-statesman an opportunity. Now, with the preseason nearing its end, it looks like they didn’t actually have to choose between the two. On Wednesday, the team announced they have signed Burke as well.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but with fifteen guaranteed contracts already occupying New York’s payroll, it would be safe to believe Burke’s deal is non-guaranteed, much like Jack’s. What this means for Jack remains to be seen. The 33 year old is the most established Knick on a non-guaranteed deal, as the others gracing the roster are likely to be regarded as prospects and jettisoned to the G League before the start of the regular season. It’s final roster or bust for Jack, who is clearly on the outside looking in at this point. Bringing Burke in suggests that New York isn’t entirely convinced that Jack is the right fit just yet.
One thing Jack provides, undeniably, is a steady veteran presence whose guidance the youngsters seem to appreciate. He adds tremendous value in that regard. Nevertheless, Burke is certainly the more explosive option. An NBA vet of four years, he’s averaged 10.6 points and could give the Knicks more of that necessary offensive boost off the bench. Between Jack and Burke, it’s simply a matter of who fits which need best and what New York is truly craving at this point. With defense being a glaring void, one could suggest that Jack’s experience and ability to lead by example would help his teammates along.
Despite his experience and subsequent production at the professional level, Burke has been humbled this offseason. Upon not getting a deal, he showed he isn’t above really grinding for an opportunity and proving his worth. He participated in a number of free agent workouts. The guard could join the Westchester Knicks and begin the season in the G League if he does not secure a roster spot.
If one thing is clear, it’s that the Knicks perceive adding another point guard to be a central priority. Regardless of whether it’s Jack or Burke, retaining an extra floor general on this roster (beyond Ramon Sessions and Frank Ntilikina) seems like a rather smart idea. Normally, this would also mean, however, that one of the aforementioned players with a guaranteed contract could see his spot on the roster in jeopardy after all. It would be a shame for the team to simply eat salary and cut a player, like they did with Lou Amundson following last year’s camp.
That being said, Bobby Marks of ESPN reported that the Knicks have some flexibility due to Joakim Noah’s suspension for the season’s initial twelve games. Because of the void his absence will create, the Knicks are able to carry a sixteenth man on their roster in the interim. This means the stakes are higher for Jack and Burke. Should either (or both) make more of a lasting impression, it’ll be interesting to see if New York decides to move one of their excess big men in exchange for an asset when the time comes.