November 01, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Alec Burks felt no need to test the free agent market. There was never a question in his mind where he wanted to continue his NBA career.

Utah feels like home.

''I made it known,'' Burks said. ''I told my agent and had him tell the Jazz I want to be here. I want to be part of the future. It's a bright future here. We have some great players. I just wanted to be a part of it.''

Burks got his wish. The 23-year-old guard signed a contract extension with the Utah Jazz on Friday. It will pay him $42 million over four years, with incentives that could increase it to as much as $45 million during that time.

For the Jazz, locking Burks into a long-term extension was an easy decision. He has continued to emerge as a potent scoring threat as he enters his fourth NBA season.

Burks appeared in 78 games last season and posted career highs of 14.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.9 steals. He also shot 45.7 percent from the field in 28.1 minutes per contest as Utah's sixth man a year ago.

Through his first two games this season, Burks leads Utah in scoring with 16.5 points per game.

''Alec has shown he's a good player right now and growing into a very good player,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. I'm really excited to have him as part of the program. I'm just happy to see him find a situation that really works. Alec's a player I feel like can continue to improve.''

One area where Burks is looking to make a bigger impact is on the defensive end. The former Colorado standout has already shown he is a skilled offensive player. He can get the rim with ease and is starting to develop a good mid-range jumper.

Burks knows that affecting a game on defense can take him to the next level in his NBA career.

''I feel like my offense is going to get there,'' Burks said. ''I feel like I have God-given ability on offense. Defense takes a lot more work, but I feel like I can get there.''

Snyder likes his willingness to put in the work. He also wants to see Burks become a force on the ball and off the ball when he is defending.

''He's become very effective on the ball,'' Snyder said. ''He's got to be a little more disciplined. I told him I want him on the floor as opposed to sitting next to me.''

Burks is the latest player in Utah's young core to sign a long-term contract to stay with the Jazz, joining Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Locking these players up matters to the team's long-term vision in returning to contention in the Western Conference.

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey says having talented players like Burks, Favors and Hayward for the next few seasons will make it easier to build a better team through free agency.

''There's a Reggie White out there for us to be had,'' Lindsey said. ''We've got the future flexibility next year to be very aggressive in the free agent market. Certainly, with expectations of a new cap in lieu of a TV deal, we'll have great flexibility. When you have a core in place, it's much easier to attract a significant talent.''

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