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Jazz Reportedly Shopping Burke
Wednesday, Feb. 17
Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported the Jazz have "made [Burke] available, but at least one more player must be added if talks progress because salaries aren't close."
The Jazz have had "multiple discussions with teams about a trade involving [Burke] ahead of Thursday's [3 p.m. ET] NBA trade deadline," Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, citing league sources.
Burke Hasn't Met High Expectations in Utah
Burke was seen as the point guard of the future in Utah when the Jazz used the No. 9 overall pick on him in the 2013 draft. He was the John R. Wooden Award winner the prior season at Michigan and was a facilitator who could also score.
However, he hasn't quite lived up to those elevated expectations, and Jones put his recent performance into perspective:
Burke's role has dwindled this season. He averaged 31 minutes per game in his first two seasons, but is playing just 23 minutes per game this season. He is averaging 11.8 ppg.
Still, Burke has proven he can be an offensive asset in the NBA. His shooting percentage has increased this season, and Snyder has repeatedly lauded him for also improving his defensive skills.
Burke averaged 12.8 points a night in each of those first two campaigns, but the scoring dip is not as notable as the decreased assist numbers, especially since Burke's field-goal percentage has increased. Here is a look at his overall numbers, per ESPN.com:
|Season||Minutes||Field-Goal Percentage||Three-Point Percentage||Points||Assists||Rebounds||Turnovers|
Burke may not be a point guard savior for the franchise that once featured John Stockton, but he is still only 23 years old and has proved himself as a scoring guard who can shoot from three-point range, attack the basket and set up his teammates when he is playing at his best. His days in Utah may be limited, but he can still be a valuable current and future contributor for any team that trades for him.
Burke actually missed the past three contests with flu symptoms, and Utah used Raul Neto and Rodney Hood as the backcourt starters in his absence. The Jazz proceeded to win two of those three games and continued to fight through various health setbacks.
The Jazz can also afford to deal Burke because they have long-term options in the backcourt outside of Neto and Hood.
Alec Burks is out for the foreseeable future because of a broken left fibula, and starting point guard Dante Exum tore his ACL in the offseason. However, Burks is only 24 years old, while Exum won't even be 21 until July 13. Both are young playmakers who could serve as foundational pieces for years to come.
What's more, Hood is 23 and averaging 14.9 points a night as Utah's third-leading scorer this season, and Neto is also only 23.
Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News recently proposed a trade where the Jazz would send Burks and Burke to the Atlanta Hawks for Jeff Teague. His reasoning provided a clue as to why the Jazz see Burke as a potentially expendable piece:
Enter the Jazz. With Dante Exum out for the whole year recovering from a torn ACL, point guard depth and production hasn't been fantastic this season. Rookie Raul Neto was thrust into the starting role, and while Trey Burke has been solid as a backup, Utah could use an upgrade.
Burks may be seen as a high price to pay for Teague (with both sides likely adding other minor pieces), who will be a free agent after next season, but shooting guard is an area of strength for the Jazz given the emergence of Rodney Hood this season.
Ultimately, better point guard play would surely solidify Utah as a playoff team this year, and going to the postseason would be a huge sign of validation that the franchise is on the right track.
Secondarily, Teague would provide insurance next season in case Exum struggles to get back into top form, but he would become a free agent next summer.
The notion that "better point guard play would surely solidify Utah as a playoff team this year" immediately stands out, especially since Burke has been one of the primary ball-handlers this season. While it may be difficult to trade a young piece like Burke, there are plenty of young playmakers already in place in the Utah backcourt to alleviate the loss.
Of course, a postseason berth would also help fans come to terms with the end of Burke's tenure in a Jazz uniform.