What to Make of the Knicks' Tim Hardaway Jr. Offer Sheet
The Knicks made one of the most shocking moves of the offseason late Thursday night. The team signed ex-Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four year, $71 million dollar offer sheet.
The Atlanta Hawks have the right to match the offer in the next couple days. It doesn't appear that they will though. Rumor has it the Hawks were willing to offer Hardaway Jr. a deal in the four year, $48 million range.
Assuming the deal goes through, Hardaway Jr. will return to the team that drafted him. In 2013, after a 54 win season, the Knicks took Hardaway with the 24th pick of the draft.
Hardaway had an up and down tenure with the Knicks. In his rookie season, the Michigan product averaged a career high 36.3 percent from the 3-point line. That Knicks team missed the playoffs by one game and had Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.
His second season saw his field goal attempts go up but his efficiency go down. He shot under 40 percent from the field and saw his turnover rate double. Worse yet, he had a very notable spat with star player Carmelo Anthony.
Hardaway Jr. reportedly yelled at Melo in frustration during a December game. Anthony responded by threatening to beat up the second year guard. The team eventually plummeted to a franchise-worst 17-65.
Following a disastrous first season under former Knicks president Phil Jackson, Hardaway Jr. was dealt for the draft rights to Jerian Grant. Hardaway Jr. joined a Hawks squad that won 60 games the year prior.
Unfortunately for Hardaway Jr., his first season with the win-now Hawks saw him play the fewest minutes per game in his career. He barely cracked the rotation and averaged just six points per game in 51 games.
The Hawks were swept by the Cavaliers in the playoffs and changed the direction of their franchise this past season. Al Horford and Jeff Teague moved on from the franchise in the 2016 offseason. The team signed Dwight Howard (who they later traded this offseason) and gave the reigns of the team to Dennis Schroeder.
That spurned a youth movement. The youth movement eventually led to Kyle Korver's exit. Following that it was Hardaway's time to shine.
Hardaway Jr. is coming off of a career year that saw him shoot 46 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from the 3-point line. His scoring soared to 14.5 points per game and he averaged a career high three rebounds and two assists.
Hardaway Jr. is still a scorer at heart. His production in other areas has improved but it still leaves a bit to be desired. At the age of 25, he is exactly what the Knicks could use at this stage of their rebuild.
Whether or not Carmelo Anthony leaves, the team needs another scorer who can create his own shot. Hardaway could be the ideal second option to Kristaps Porzingis, who figures to be the team's primary scoring option.
The price may be excessive, but the Knicks don't figure to be big spenders in the coming years anyway. In fact, this move shows that the Knicks are willing to roll the dice on a player they drafted.
Many fans balk at the idea of trading Hardaway Jr. for Jerian Grant, then trading Grant for Rose, whose cap hold the Knicks renounced to sign Hardaway. If anything, perhaps the team has been granted a mulligan by the basketball gods.
Hardaway Jr. may crash and burn in New York on an exorbitant salary. He also may breakout and fulfill the promise the Knicks brass saw in him four years ago.
Either way, signing a 25-year-old coming off of a career year to a long-term contract is far from the worst thing the team has done. The team signed Joakim Noah to the same deal last summer and traded an unprotected first round pick for Andrea Bargnani. The team will be fine welcoming Hardaway Jr. back to the fold.