The New York Knicks are in a complete state of disarray.
Phil Jackson was sent packing this summer, the team traded away Carmelo Anthony and they’re attempting to rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis. A few expensive contracts could haunt the team for years to come.
One of those contracts belongs to Tim Hardaway Jr. Despite trading him for the No. 19 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft (which turned out to be Jerian Grant), they signed him to a four-year, $71 million deal to return to the Big Apple this summer. The Hawks, who had an opportunity to match the offer due to his restricted free agent status, easily made the choice to let him leave at that price.
As you might imagine, the New York media had an absolute field day with the deal and a large number of fans lashed out against the organization on social media, ripping the decision. Most of that stemmed around the bizarre admission that Hardaway revealed about the team’s front office telling him, “you have to obviously improve a lot more on defense and improve a lot more on the offensive end. So you can never settle.”
But, it appears as though Hardaway doesn’t care about his haters one bit.
"I really could care less. At this point, I could care less," Hardaway Jr. told Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News. "People need to move on, move forward with that. That's in the past right now. We've got to get ready for the season. If they're still harping on that then their mind is somewhere else. I'm focused on the team, I'm here to win, and I know my teammates and the coaching staff, everybody in that front office has that faith and trust in me that I'm gonna go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win."
Last season, Hardaway averaged 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 27.3 minutes for the Hawks, all of which were career-highs.
He has impressed Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek so far in practice.
“It’s right there,” Hornacek said of Hardaway’s shooting mechanics, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “He’s solid with it. It’s not different one shot to another. That’s why he’s a great shooter.”
Hornacek added he’s “really impressed” with Hardaway’s training camp, including that he is “helping and talking on defense” and “moving without the ball.” Hornacek even said Hardaway is “setting an example” for their new team-centric offense that preaches ball movement.
It appears as though Hardaway will receive quite an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong this season in New York. Anthony’s absence creates a massive scoring void that needs to be addressed.
While Michael Beasley, Courtney Lee and newcomers Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott have shown spurs of productivity in the scoring column during their respective careers in the league, Hardaway could quickly become the No. 2 option on offense behind Porzingis.