Tim Hardaway Jr. offered $71 million by New York Knicks

Adds to series of questionable decisions by Knicks franchise in free agency

In one of the most surprising news items of the NBA offseason, the New York Knicks have offered restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. a four year $71 million deal. Hardaway Jr. was drafted by the Knicks as a first round pick in the 2013 NBA draft, but he wasn’t impressive enough to keep the Knicks from trading him away in order to acquire similarly mediocre point guard Jerian Grant, who would later be traded for former Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. Hardaway Jr. was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, where he’d been playing for the past two years, with stints in the NBA’s developmental league. The Knicks are now waiting to see if the Hawks match the offer within the 48 hour window, although NBA analysts find it highly unlikely that Atlanta will do so due to the high price New York has placed on Hardaway Jr. According to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, the Hawks were going into the offseason expecting to match offers up to $45 million for Hardaway Jr. Optimists will point to the 25-year-old’s steady improvement over the past two years in Atlanta, although his numbers last year (14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game) were not as impressive as one would expect from a marquee free agent signing such as this price would suggest. Many NBA experts, such as ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, ridiculed the idea that a former reject would return with such a high price tag despite not improving enough to merit such a pay raise.

This adds to the questionable payroll the Knicks have compiled over the past seasons. Last year, the Knicks gave a four year $72.6 million deal to former Bulls star and current injury risk Joakim Noah, as well as a four year $52 million deal for Courtney Lee, who plays the same position as Hardaway Jr. They also have to deal with their aging superstar Carmelo Anthony, who is playing out the final guaranteed year of his $124 million contract, although a player option and a no-trade clause hinder their chances at getting out of that very soon.

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