When Trey Burke went through some of the practice drills with the Dallas Mavericks on Friday for the first time under the NBA bubble, it was new and exciting for him. And maybe a little uneasy.
It’s not that Burke is unaware of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s coaching principles. The 6-foot guard played 25 games for the Mavs last season, so he has a general idea of Carlisle’s playbook.
Still, there are some things Burke has to learn to totally get on the same page with his teammates.
“It’s like a kid coming to a new school and having to pick up things that all the other kids already know,” Burke said. “But for me, being a part of this organization last year at the end of the season and having some experience out there on the court with a lot of these guys, having some experience under the tutelage of coach Carlisle, I feel really comfortable to be honest.
“I feel comfortable, rather than other places coming into a new place and it’s a brand new system and a brand new coaching staff. I pretty much know the pace that coach likes to play with, I know how hard he can be on guys and I’m ready for that. I know that it’s good for this team to have a guy like coach Carlisle who demands a certain standard on both ends of the court. I think that’s what I remember most about playing here last year. But besides that, it’s the play-calling.”
The Mavs signed Burke on July 1 as a replacement after it was clear guard Jalen Brunson wasn’t going to be able to play any more this season. Brunson underwent surgery on March 14 to repair a labrum injury in his right shoulder.
While the majority of the Mavs flew to Orlando on July 8, Burke didn’t arrive in Orlando until Tuesday. He then had to go through all of the quarantine protocols before he was allowed to practice with the Mavs.
“I got into the NBA testing program late, so my protocol is different,” Burke said. “I had to go through several different loops. Not only back at home, but when I got to Dallas. Then from Dallas getting to here, I got into the testing program the NBA laid out, so it was a bunch of different things that I had to go through, but I’m just glad to be here.
“Like I told a lot of my teammates, I was just tired of looking at those four walls in the hotel and dreaming to be on the basketball court again. I didn’t fully practice with the team (Friday), but I got on the court with them and did some positional drills with them and I’m ready to go. I’m just glad to be doing what I love to do.”
This is Burke’s second go-round with the Mavs. The seven-year veteran was part of the blockbuster trade on Jan. 31, 2019 that brought him, Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee from the New York Knicks to the Mavs for DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and a pair of first-round draft picks.
In 25 games with the Mavs last season Burke averaged 9.7 points and 2.6 assists in 17.4 minutes, and also shot 46.3 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from behind the 3-point line. Burke became a free agent last summer and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.
While playing 25 games for the Sixers last season, Burke averaged 5.9 points and 2.1 assists in 13.2 minutes, and also converted 46.5 percent of his field goals and 42.1 percent of his 3-point shots.
The Sixers, though, waived Burke on Feb. 6 and he was without a team until the Mavs called earlier this month. Carlisle said it was an advantage for the Mavs to reach out to Burke since he already knows the system.
“We’re doing a lot of the same things conceptually,” Carlisle said. “Some of our calls and naming concepts may be a little bit different, but he picked it up very quickly.
“The other thing is it’s good to see him and Tim Hardaway back together. These guys played together at Michigan, they played together with the Knicks, they played together briefly with us last year after the trade, so they were spending time together (on Friday) working out and shooting with (player development coach God) Shammgod.”
In Burke’s eyes, the two biggest differences in the Mavs from his first tour is that Dirk Nowitzki has retired and Porzingis is finally playing following anterior cruciate ligament surgery.
“Dirk knows I love him, but obviously when I was here last year it was Dirk’s farewell,” Burke said. “With Dirk obviously being the Hall of Famer that he is, with him gone now, obviously it’s turned to Luka (Doncic) and KP, and we go off of how they play and I think that’s the biggest thing right now is knowing roles.
“I’m just figuring out my role and trying to be the best that I can be in that role. But I like the pieces that we have.”
The Mavs were off on Saturday, but Burke is expected to see some playing time during Sunday’s scrimmage against the Indiana Pacers at 3 p.m., which will be televised on NBA TV and on Mavs.com.
“The coaching staff has done a great job keeping me proactive with all the plays,” Burke said. “All the time that I’ve had in the (hotel) room isolated by myself I’ve been able to go over the things I kind of forgot about. I’m pretty much used to everything that they’re throwing at me right now, so I’m sure I’ll pick it up as fast as I can.”
While he was in quarantine, Burke said he had an exercise bicycle in his room to help with his conditioning.
“During the hiatus it’s like this heavy program that they have me on, this heavy cardio program that is about 15 or 20 minutes,” Burke said. “I do that in the morning and I do it at night, and it made me sweat a lot. It’s not equivalent of a 94-foot court, but I did a great job of eating right and I had to visualize a lot, which was new to me.
“But that’s what it is when you’re a professional player and you had a pandemic hit. Guys have to find other ways just to stay up to par.”
The ninth overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Burke said Carlisle simply told him to just play his game.
“He knows what I can do, he knows that I know the system to a certain level,” Burke said. “So, I’ve just got to pick up the new things that I’m not accustomed to as fast as I can going forward.”
Carlisle has no doubt that Burke is a fast learner.
“He’s doing very well,” Carlisle said. “I know Trey is excited to be back with us.
“He had a really good experience with us (last season) and we’re happy to have him.”