GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- When Trey Burke was originally drafted with the No. 9 pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves out of Michigan in the 2013 NBA Draft, he never figured he'd end up in the NBA G League. He figured his career would be a straight arc upward toward NBA stability and stardom.
"Nobody wants to start in the NBA and then come to the G league, but I'm comfortable with who I am," the 6-foot-1 Burke said Tuesday at Westchester Knicks Media Day. "I'm comfortable with where I am and I know that everybody's journey is different so I'm at a point where I get to sit back and really explore everything that's in front of me and just go at it, man."
The Knicks signed Burke on Oct. 11 and he said part of his motivation for signing with them was that his former Michigan teammate, Tim Hardaway Jr., is back with the Knicks.
"It influenced me a lot, he did," Burke said. "We had a great relationship and on the court we connected right when I first got to Michigan years ago. I do believe that we'll be playing together again one of these days and I'm excited about it."
He added: "It's great to have a guy out here that you're trying to have that connection with while you're trying to connect with everyone else."
For now he's looking to lead their G League franchise, which includes a pair of players signed to two-way contracts in Luke Kornet (Vanderbilt) and Isaiah Hicks (North Carolina).
"I want to be a big-time leader for these guys," Burke said. "A lot of these guys are just coming into the league and don't really know much, and I've been through it so I feel like my presence will help them out a lot."
"When you come into this league at 19, you think you know the answers but you don't," he added. "This is a grown man's league and you have to prepare the way you want to play. And you have to sacrifice. I feel like I can show them things and tell them things that can help them out."
Westchester Knicks GM Allan Houston believes Burke can help the franchise going forward, too.
"What Trey will bring is a hunger," Houston said. "The most important thing is you want a player who has credibility, who's been through it, who players can look to and say, 'Wow, he doesn't have to be here. But he's here because he loves the game, he wants to get better.' He's humbled himself and that alone brings a level of accountability and credibility to the team.
"But from a basketball standpoint, he's a guy who has played for some good teams and he needs an opportunity."
Burke has averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists over 24.8 minutes in 267 career games with Utah and Washington from 2013 through 2017. He was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team as a member of the Jazz. Last season, Burke appeared in 57 games for the Wizards and averaged 5.0 points and 1.8 assists over 12.3 minutes.
But he indicated that he didn't necessarily take his NBA career seriously enough and that helped explain why he is where he is now.
"If I had to do this over again, I would do what I knew to do coming in," he said. "That's living for my Lord and Savior and really being an example to him and not just being out there and clubbing. I'll admit it now. I was young and I just got married a few weeks ago, so I'm at a point in my life where I want to do it the right way. Even though it's Year 5, I still have a young body. I have a lot of years left in my body and I'm willing to go at it."
The 0-3 Knicks certainly don't have one of the NBA's top backcourts. Veteran Ramon Sessions starts at the point, with Jarrett Jack now his backup. Rookie Frank Ntilikina has been sidelined with injuries.
"I've talked to [Ntilikina] a few times," Burke said. "I told him, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. I definitely see opportunity up there. But right now I'm just focused on being the best I can be here so once the opportunity does present itself, I'm ready to explore that.
"I know for a fact I can be an impact player even in the league," Burke added. "I definitely think this is an opportunity for me to show them what I can do."