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Thunder journal: Deonte Burton's whirlwind past three days feel like one long one

SALT LAKE CITY – It all felt like one day to Deonte Burton. From when his agent called him a couple days earlier to tell him talks had picked up, to his first game on a standard NBA contract Monday, a series of career-shifting events all ran together.

“It happened so fast, I don’t even know exactly how it happened,” Burton told The Oklahoman.

Burton’s stint as a two-way player ended Sunday, when the Thunder signed him to an NBA contract. It was the last move of a two-year post-college journey to the NBA that took him from Iowa State to South Korea to Oklahoma City.

Ask the OKC Blue and Thunder coaches, Mark Daigneault and Billy Donovan, about Burton’s development this season, and they’ll bring up everything from his nutrition to his versatility on the court.

Ask Burton, and he will immediately bring up overall flexibility.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said, “so it teaches you just always be ready. For anything. For any position, any time, any place. Just be prepared.”

Signing a contract and hopping on a plane to Utah wasn’t an adjustment. He had been going back and forth between the G League and NBA all season.

Burton kept track if his days with the Thunder. Two-way players are allowed 45 days of service. By Burton’s count, he was at 41 when he signed his new contract.

Before then, the Thunder wasn’t under much pressure to sign him to an NBA deal. Burton played in 23 Thunder games on his two-way contract, but he wasn’t a regular rotation player. It made better financial sense for OKC to wait to pay him a prorated first-year minimum salary.

How did Burton feel as he neared his 45-day limit?

“Honestly?” he said, contemplating his response in front of his locker in Vivint Smart Home Arena Monday. “It was like a sad thing because I know that I’m not going to be with the G League team that much anymore, and I really like being with them. We’re really close off the court.”

He lived in the same apartment complex as his teammates, and they took advantage of that proximity. Even when they weren’t working, they were often together.

Burton spent the first hours of his new contract alone. He got on a flight to Utah and arrived before the rest of the team did. But that didn’t throw Burton off. He’s flexible. He pulled out Call of Duty.

“Systematically,” Donovan said “we (the Thunder and Blue) try to stay relatively similar so when guys are going up and down there’s not a big learning curve for them. I think Deonte being down there was good for him and being with us has been good for him. Now having him back, he gives us a little more flexibility and versatility on the perimeter.”

Injury update

The Thunder listed Markieff Morris (neck soreness) as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Nets. Due to injury, Morris, who was out for nearly two months with a neck injury earlier this season, played just eight minutes in the Thunder’s 98-89 win over the Jazz on Monday.

Related Photos
<strong>Deonte Burton will remain with the Thunder for the rest of the regular season. He has spent some time this season with the minor-league Oklahoma City Blue. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Deonte Burton will remain with the Thunder for the rest of the regular season. He has spent some time this season with the minor-league Oklahoma City Blue. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-17e45741a78cc3726402a56ffdd0fb95.jpg" alt="Photo - Deonte Burton will remain with the Thunder for the rest of the regular season. He has spent some time this season with the minor-league Oklahoma City Blue. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Deonte Burton will remain with the Thunder for the rest of the regular season. He has spent some time this season with the minor-league Oklahoma City Blue. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Deonte Burton will remain with the Thunder for the rest of the regular season. He has spent some time this season with the minor-league Oklahoma City Blue. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-55827afaa3f946fe4da99f4f1ab37b1d.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Deonte Burton (30) waits to check in during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman" title="Oklahoma City's Deonte Burton (30) waits to check in during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Deonte Burton (30) waits to check in during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-55c24e97aba893fb07cd0a005ccfc3cc.jpg" alt="Photo - Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder's Markieff Morris (5) and Abdel Nader (11) defend in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder's Markieff Morris (5) and Abdel Nader (11) defend in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder's Markieff Morris (5) and Abdel Nader (11) defend in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0769b2c04ce355ace14899c51b3a7f4e.jpg" alt="Photo - Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, bottom, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder's Abdel Nader, right, and Markieff Morris, top, in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, bottom, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder's Abdel Nader, right, and Markieff Morris, top, in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, bottom, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder's Abdel Nader, right, and Markieff Morris, top, in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3ff1104eaf66ed865001c46e5a0d47c8.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, picks up the ball as Utah Jazz forward Jae Crowder, right, looks on in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, picks up the ball as Utah Jazz forward Jae Crowder, right, looks on in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George, left, picks up the ball as Utah Jazz forward Jae Crowder, right, looks on in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-331c825c1847fd6ec041fb8b1627169c.jpg" alt="Photo - Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, rear, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, rear, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, rear, battles for the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f8aab11009b1baa683d4a3e41eec3fe7.jpg" alt="Photo - Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, right, battles for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, right, battles for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, right, battles for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0dac6bb444f1c7fbab71b34cbe396bc8.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d6f5e6446e5a2c1c536baf44ac1c166b.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams (12) and Terrance Ferguson (23) guard Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams (12) and Terrance Ferguson (23) guard Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams (12) and Terrance Ferguson (23) guard Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-73c5893851d74c0d3c986c631bf4ae0b.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) guards against Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) guards against Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (13) guards against Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2873abb6a7db53ff96943abaaa53d828.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale, left, defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5f6bf8f69ca671cc4975a7266f850c55.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant, left, and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right, battle for the ball in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant, left, and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right, battle for the ball in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant, left, and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right, battle for the ball in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3e0ecc7df4962921f9b6dee144f0dfad.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-516f4018e60d85be3491f12f3eada2e9.jpg" alt="Photo - Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) guards Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) guards Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) guards Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-810d6ab0e2f28c4bed804b47350413b9.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates after a teammate scores against the Utah Jazz in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates after a teammate scores against the Utah Jazz in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates after a teammate scores against the Utah Jazz in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-466305c0c0447af016fd27636482f623.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots as Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) defends in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots as Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) defends in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) shoots as Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) defends in the second half during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c4d99aa9649b2affd8d5d9b10f153b30.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shouts to his team in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shouts to his team in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shouts to his team in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b832c1a5a887146b5d1eaffde74b040f.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) waves to the crowd as he leaves the court following an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) waves to the crowd as he leaves the court following an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) waves to the crowd as he leaves the court following an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</figcaption></figure>
Maddie Lee

Maddie Lee followed an NBA team from Seattle to Oklahoma City, she just took a 10-year detour in between. Lee joined the Oklahoman in October 2018 as a Thunder beat writer, fresh off a stint in Oxford, Miss., where she covered Ole Miss for the... Read more ›

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