Tim Hardaway Jr. was one of the offseason’s biggest surprise signings; not only because he received a four-year deal, but also because that his former team, the Knicks, signed him to a $71MM pact. Entering his fifth NBA season, Hardaway never posted more than 14.5 PPG in a single season and has never been the focal point of an offense. In a recent interview with Peter Walsh of SLAM Magazine, Hardaway admitted that the criticism of his deal has been a source of motivation.
“I have to use [criticism] as motivation,” Hardaway said. “I take it as those are your fans and they’re coming at you with that. It hurts. But at the same time, you can’t harp on that. You have to go out there and show that you deserve what the Knicks offered. At the end of the day, it’s not my fault. They came to me. I knew that if it was something big, I would have to deliver. I’ve been delivering since last season in Atlanta. I feel like I’m confident and capable of getting what I got money-wise and going out there and playing for the team and playing for the franchise and playing for the city.”
Hardaway, who is still just 25 years old, has played well in his first season back in New York. In 16 games, he has averaged a career-high 17.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG for the Knicks. The former first-round pick has played with some foot injuries this season but has otherwise been a solid secondary option behind Kristaps Porzingis. While criticism for his contract will persist, Hardaway is confident he can prove he is worth the investment.
Check out other news from the Knicks organization below:
- Speaking of Hardaway’s foot injury, he recently said he does not have plantar fasciitis in his foot, (via ESPN’s Ian Begley). Hardaway said he is experiencing “just intense soreness with ligaments and stuff.” The Knicks guard intends to nurse the injury and play until it is healed.
- Ron Baker, who has not played since the team’s third regular season game due to a shoulder injury, is nearing a return, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “Ron’s almost there with the shoulder,’’ head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He practiced [Sunday]. I asked him how it was with contact, he said he tried to avoid real hard picks. He’s getting close to full contact.’’
- In the same article, Berman writes that the Knicks’ 2017 first-round pick, Frank Ntilikina, removed himself from the Knicks’ win over the Clippers on Monday in the fourth quarter due to flu-like symptoms.
- Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, who were acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade, and free agent signing Jarrett Jack have led the Knicks to a strong early start, Ian Begley of ESPN writes. Giving a similar take, Berman of The New York Post echoed the sentiment, writing that the Knicks’ return for their former superstar has paid dividends early on.
- Once more, Berman of The New York Post examines the impact general manager Scott Perry has had on the Knicks and their early success this season. In an interesting tidbit, Berman cites sources who say Anthony would have accepted a trade to Portland if talks with the Rockets, Cavaliers, and Thunder fizzled.