We are quarter of the way done with the 2023-24 NBA season. With the trade deadline only two months away, the trade market is taking shape with a new name added to the rumor mill every day. The Denver Nuggets, who have enough assets for a trade to add to their bench depth, are one of the teams that are regularly mentioned in these rumors. The most recent name rumored to be of interest to the reigning champions is veteran guard Alec Burks of the Detroit Pistons.
According to Sam Amico of Hoops Wire, the Denver Nuggets are one of the teams expected to make a call about Burks, along with the Houston Rockets. Considering the immediate needs of the Nuggets, this makes some sense.
Burks was one of the most impactful players on the Pistons last season
Alec Burks is a 32-year-old shooting guard who has been a consummate professional his entire pro career. Despite being on the worst team in the NBA for the past two seasons, Burks has been one of the bright spots for the Detroit Pistons. He was one of the best players on the Pistons last season, with an impressive on/off net rating of +11.7. In fact, when Burks was on the court, Detroit was a respectable team, with a net rating of -0.4. His efficiency and productivity took a hit this season, but that is understandable due to the Pistons' messy offensive ecosystem.
The calling card for Burks is his scoring. He is a three-level scorer who can get to the rim or the free-throw line, create his own mid-range shot, and hit catch-and-shoot three-pointers. He has been over 40% from three each of the past three seasons. This provides an intriguing level of offensive versatility as he can play next to other stars thanks to his floor-spacing and off-ball ability, as well as be a lead creator in bench units.
Burks is certainly not a defensive stopper, especially at his advanced age. However, he is not hopeless on that end, either. At 6'6, he has good size and strength for his position, and can be a cog in the machine for a good defensive unit.
That should be more than enough for a Denver Nuggets team who only would need Burks in limited minutes off the bench. Burks can thrive as a sixth-man, trying to keep Denver offense afloat when Nikola Jokic is on the bench. If any of Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or Michael Porter Jr. miss any games, Burks has the ability to slide into the starting lineup, thanks to his offensive versatility.
This makes Burks a fascinating target for Denver. Not only does he fit well to the system, he is also on an expiring contract. The fact that he doesn't add any financial burden past this season should be an intriguing aspect of a potential trade for the Nuggets.
Salary-matching could be an issue in a potential trade
However, Burks' $10.4 million salary does create some salary-matching complications. In order for Denver to get to that salary, they would most likely have to send out three of Zeke Nnaji, Reggie Jackson, Justin Holiday, and Deandre Jordan, assuming they don't want to trade any of their rookies. This creates additional depth issues, especially on the frontcourt. Giving up three backups for one rotation player is not an easy decision to make.
Another way the Denver Nuggets can acquire Alec Burks would be via a buyout. Since Burks is on an expiring contract, if the Pistons don't get the package they desire for him, they could do him a favor and buy his contract out. This would allow him to sign with whatever team he wants. The reigning champions Nuggets, who also have playing time to offer Burks, would presumably be an ideal destination for a veteran chasing his first ring.