The Atlanta Hawks have no plans to match the 4-year, $71 million offer made to shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr by the New York Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The 25-year-old entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, and it was widely believed that he would have to settle for a contract between $10-13 million per year. Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk was in line with this thinking, so it was not a particularly difficult decision when the Knicks came forward with this offer sheet.
Hardaway Jr back sooner than expected
The Knicks drafted the Michigan product with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 draft, and he would go on to have an impressive rookie campaign including 36 points in the Rising Stars Challenge. His sophomore season, however, saw his shooting percentage take a dip from 43% to 39% and saw his defensive struggles continue.
Hardaway Jr was dealt on draft night in 2015 to the Hawks in exchange for Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant. Grant had little impact with the team in his rookie year, and he was eventually packaged to the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose.
Now, it seems like Rose will be departing as Hardaway Jr re-enters town. It is a truly odd carousel scenario when looking back at it, but the Knicks are buying into Hardaway’s growth in all departments.
His first season with the Hawks saw him bouncing between the NBA and the D-League, as the organization worked to iron out his defensive issues and all-around offensive game. It seemed to pay off, as he would go on to average career highs in almost all categories including 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 46% shooting. He took over games at times with his shooting, and the Knicks hope that he can bring this spark back to their squad.
What’s next for the Hawks?
Now that Hardaway Jr has joined Paul Millsap on the way out the door, the Hawks are in a position with a significant amount of cap space. It is possible that they will tender offers to the now-unrestricted free agent guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is a local product from Georgia.
Another option that matches the timeline of a rebuild is restricted free agent center Nerlens Noel, but the Dallas Mavericks are likely to match any offer that he receives.
Hardaway Jr would have fit the rebuilding plan because of his youth and improvement, but Schlenk is clearly opposed to unreasonable contracts and he views this one as such.