If Knicks fans needed any more proof that the team is looking to distance itself from the Phil Jackson era, this free period agency seems ready to provide it. According to ESPN, New York is attempting to reel back in a prospect the executive had apparently seen enough of.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley, the Knicks have signed 2013 draftee Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four year, $71 million offer sheet.
This move comes as a massive surprise as the Knicks have remained dormant during free agency’s opening week. While the likes of Dion Waiters, Rudy Gay, and James Johnson have come to see big pay days, New York has proceeded to hang back. Such cautious steps suggested that the organization had learned from its mistakes of overpaying players early on in the summer last year. As this past season proved, the team had nothing to show for its investment except for another losing season and even less flexibility to improve. There’s no point in committing to expensive free agents if the team isn’t competing. The lack of big spending this month could have meant that New York was locking in and preparing to remain patience while developing its youth.
Hardaway could still very well fit into that equation. Since being flipped for the draft pick that became Jerian Grant in 2015, he has made offensive strides. He’s gained confidence and has come to make much better decisions with the basketball. Hardaway Jr. is assertive, can drive, and catch & shoot with steady quickness on the floor. He averaged 14.5 points on 46% from the field and 36% from deep last season. He may be poised to pour in the points on a young team, but still stands as a defensive liability. At 25, there’s room to grow and Hardaway Jr. has proven he’s not opposed to putting in the work. As a member of the Hawks, he remained patient and worked on his game through multiple D-League assignments.
Hardaway Jr. certainly deserves kudos for his development after departing the Big Apple. Perhaps this attempt to bring him back is an acknowledgment that the Knicks shouldn’t have given up on him so quickly. Nevertheless, that type of contract is a steep commitment from a team that should be maintaining any and all flexibility. Nothing is guaranteed as far as the future is concerned. They should be reserving the right to make necessary improvements. Instead, they’re attempting to go all in on Hardaway Jr. and add him back to the young core. Such a gamble will cost them a pretty penny.