Quite literally, the Knicks are attempting to reverse the damage done by Phil Jackson.
Two years after Tim Hardaway Jr. was traded by Jackson, the Knicks signed the shooting guard to a four-year, $ 71 million offer sheet, agent Mark Bartelstein confirmed to the Daily News. Since Hardaway Jr. is a restricted free agent, the Hawks have two days to either match the offer or let him go to New York.
It’s a surprising turn of events following a snail’s paced opening five days of free agency from GM Steve Mills, who, according to sources, is trying to convince James Dolan he should elevate to team president.
If signed, Hardaway Jr. will eat up almost all of the Knicks’ projected cap space this summer. They can create more by trading Carmelo Anthony or Courtney Lee (who plays the same position as Hardaway Jr.). But either way, the Knicks will have to renounce their rights to Derrick Rose.
Hardaway Jr., 25, was drafted 24th overall by the Knicks in 2013 and was a First Team All-Rookie selection, but struggled with his efficiency after Jackson took over. On draft night in 2015, Jackson dealt Hardaway Jr. to the Hawks for the rights to pick Jerian Grant, a point guard who has struggled to adjust to the NBA (and was traded by Jackson to Chicago for Rose).
In a more stabilized environment in Atlanta, Hardaway Jr. flourished last season while averaging a career-high 14.5 points on 46 percent shooting in 79 games. He also started six playoff games.
This summer, however, Atlanta has laid the groundwork for a full rebuild, letting go of Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap – within two years of also shedding Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague. It’s unclear how much they value Hardaway Jr., but the Knicks’ offer sheet – which includes a 15 percent trade kicker and a player option in the fourth year, according to Bartelstein – is excessive. There’s a good chance the Hawks don’t match. If they do match and the Knicks lose their biggest free agency play, it’s because Jackson traded Hardaway Jr.’s rights two years ago.
Send a Letter to the Editor