Knicks president Steve Mills had an aggressive plan that ultimately snared Tim Hardaway Jr., writes Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. Mills claims he reached out to Hardaway just after midnight on July 1. While Hardaway says that he didn’t hear from the Knicks until a few days into free agency, it is clear that Mills aggressively pursued the former Knick.
“We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old. We made the decision that if you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team, you have to be aggressive. So we made a decision to be aggressive,” Mills said.
Reportedly, the Knicks brass believed that the Hawks would be willing to offer $45MM for four years, so Mills and company needed to be “aggressive” and offered $71MM over four years. Although Hardaway has started just 62 of 281 games in his career, Mills believes that he is a starting shooting guard in the NBA.
“As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two-guard in this league. Our trajectory for him is to be a starting two- guard, the capability of being a starting two-guard for the rest of his career. And those guys average 16, 16.5 million dollars today. So that’s how we came to the decision,” the Knicks president said.
Here’s what else you should know regarding the Knicks:
- Also in Iannazzone’s Newsday piece, Mills speaks to his relationship with team cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis. “Kristaps and I have a hectic texting relationship. I continue to text Kristaps over the summer and he and I have spoken two or three times over the summer,” Mills said. Phil Jackson confirmed he was fielding trade offers for Porzingis around the draft, but since Jackson left the team, the Knicks have stated that they will build around the Latvian center.
- By going young this season, the Knicks could score big in the 2018 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports Network. If Carmelo Anthony is dealt, the Knicks could enter full-scale rebuilding mode, possibly setting them up for the first overall pick in the next draft. Zagoria mentions Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley as potential targets if the Knicks were to land the top selection.
- In a press conference, Mills spoke about new GM Scott Perry‘s role with the team, relays Steve Popper of USA Today. “I’m going to give Scott the room to make basketball decisions and make recommendations to me,” Mills said. “He’s going to have a chance to manage the coaching staff, manage the scouting staff, and make recommendations as to where we should go as a basketball organization. I think we’ll be partners in that in the sense that he’ll come to me with his recommendation and we’ll debate it back and forth. But at the end of the day, I’m giving him the room to make those decisions.” Mills also emphasized that the goal is for the Knicks to be a younger, more athletic team, while head coach Jeff Hornacek stressed hustle and defense as the lynchpins of the new team.
- Mills said that, if he were in charge, he “would’ve selected Frank [Ntilikina] at that point in the draft myself,” per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mills continued, “He’s a guy that fits in everything that we’re talking about right now. He’s a smart basketball player. He focuses defensively and his approach to the game, his work ethic, fit exactly in the direction that we want to take this team.”