The New York Knicks made one of the biggest and most puzzling splashes in NBA free agency this summer when they inked Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $US71 million contract.
Hardaway averaged a career-high 14 points per game last season for the Atlanta Hawks, but by most indications, the Knicks’ offer was an overpay. Two reports said the Hawks planned to offer $US45-48 million to Hardaway.
From the sounds of it, much of the NBA was surprised at the Knicks offering a player they drafted in 2013, then traded in 2015, so much money.
According to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix, some executives at the Las Vegas Summer League were “startled” by the contract.
“Can’t understand the New York Knicks these days?
“Don’t worry — you’re not alone. A sizable number of team executives gathered at the NBA’s annual desert summer league can’t either.
“Think the Knicks overpaid for Tim Hardaway Jr.? Guess what? Hardaway’s four-year, $US71 million deal startled more than a few decision makers here. The Hawks were keen on keeping Hardaway. At $US40 million. Maybe $US50 million.
Furthermore, according to Mannix, one executive said he’d have paid more to Dion Waiters — who ended up signing a four-year, $US52 million deal with the Miami Heat — than Hardaway.
“Seventy-one million?” the executive said of Hardaway. “No one else was going to offer that.”
The gamble on Hardaway makes some sense — he’s young, athletic, and coming off his best season in the NBA. Furthermore, he told reporters at his introductory press conference that the Knicks made clear that they expect him to continue improving.
Yet the allocation of the money is still confusing. According to Mannix, Hardaway’s contract takes up 18% of the Knicks’ salary cap, a high amount for a player who, thus far, doesn’t project as a star. The Knicks also have Courtney Lee, who they signed to a four-year, $US48 million contract last summer, who plays the same position as Hardaway. They also don’t have a veteran point guard on the roster.
If Knicks fans can’t fully grasp the logic behind the signing, worry not — neither can NBA executives.