On Saturday night, after losing to the Timberwolves, the Kings decided not to extend a third 10-day contract to PJ Dozier, instead choosing to bring Deonte Burton in from the Stockton Kings on such a deal, per the reporting of The Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman.
Burton’s contract officially begins Monday, January 30th, exactly ten days before the NBA trade deadline on February 9.
In 14 games played for Stockton, Burton is averaging 12.2 points on 54.5% from the field and 42.2% from deep with 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals in 38.2 minutes per contest.
For reference, this is not the same Deonte Burton the Kings brought in back in 2014 as a camp invite, they just coincidentally have the same name and were undrafted out of college.
After Sacramento let Chima Moneke go at the beginning of the month, head coach Mike Brown described the open roster spot as giving the team the opportunity to “take a look at this guy or that guy.” They had twenty days to evaluate PJ Dozier and a decision has been made.
The lengthy Dozier did not see much time on the floor in his time with the team, logging just 10 minutes over the course of 4 games, all in mop up duty.
Now comes somebody else’s chance.
Who is Deonte Burton?
After one full year at Marquette, Burton transferred midseason his second year to Iowa State, where he played until his senior season.
In 35 games his final season as a Cyclone, Burton averaged 15.1 points on 48.3% from the field and 37.5% from three with 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game.
The immediate thing that stands out about Burton is his size. He may be a mere 6’4″, but he’s listed at 240 lbs. and possesses a 7’0″ wingspan. Coming out of college, some envisioned that he could assume a small ball 4 or 5 given his ability to guard the interior. While that hasn’t exactly panned out that way in his limited time at the highest level, he has experience playing shooting guard and small forward, offering a fairly wide window of versatility.
He went undrafted in 2017, playing on Minnesota’s Summer League team before signing a professional deal in South Korea. In 63 games for Wonju Dongbu Promy, Burton averaged 23.8 points on 47.1% shooting and 33.6% from three with 8.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 block per contest.
During the summer of 2018, Oklahoma City gave him a two-way deal. That year he played at both levels and got an official NBA contract in March 2019 after appearing in 32 games.
The following season, he played 39 games for the Thunder, but there was no progression to be found as his shooting percentages–which were already low–took a dip. After looking like he’d made a regression, the team decided to decline Burton’s team option ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Though it may not have necessarily played a part in the reasoning for the overall decision to let him go, it is worth noting that Burton reportedly got into an altercation in the locker room with Dennis Schroder in December 2019. The exact details never came out, but the word was that Burton took exception to Schroder calling out his play.
Burton played for the G League’s Maine Celtics the next year after they picked him up from the Available Player Pool. In Maine, his play progressed as he spent the whole season playing strictly for them.
With a year that displayed progression under his belt, the Stockton Kings traded their third-round pick in the G League Draft and a future first-round pick to acquire Burton.
As noted, in his time in Stockton, Burton has been impressive, continuing to take positive steps in the process of working to establish himself in the NBA.
What are Burton’s chances?
At first glance probably about as good as Dozier’s. One guy is finding his way after recovering from an ACL injury, which was a major setback for a guy who was firmly in Denver’s rotation not long ago. The other guy has never held down any such role at this level.
And the aspect of his contract beginning 10 days before the trade deadline seems like bad juju for his chances, though it could very well be timed that way to align with the fact the next game falls on Monday night.
He does in fact have a chance. He’d have to prove it first, but he has a better combination of size. Dozier is taller and just as long, but his 205 lb. frame does not extend much promise to guarding forwards. At 240 lb., Burton does.
If he were to contribute, Burton would be a better fit for what the Kings’ needs are than Dozier would have.
Now can he actually pull it off?
Who the hell knows.
The altercation about three years ago with Schroder stands out as unsavory, but after his situation with OKC, he went on an upward trajectory in Maine and is showing the same with his time in Stockton. So even if the odds aren’t great, he could have what it takes.
One other interesting note here is that he might very well have a soft spot in the heart of a Ranadive.
Vivek Ranadive’s daughter Anjali is the assistant general manager in Stockton. Recall the Stockton Kings traded for Burton, i.e. the front office Anjali Ranadive is a part of pulled the strings to get this guy.
Will that affect his chances with the NBA team?
Hell no, she’s the assistant GM in Stockton, not Sacramento. Plus, that would simply be too absurd, even for something so near to Vivek Ranadive. But it’s interesting nonetheless.