Tim Hardaway Jr. is expected to be one of the top wings available on the free agent market this offseason, but he may end up not going anywhere. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), there’s confidence within the Mavericks‘ organization about the team’s ability to sign Hardaway to a new contract.
Hardaway, 29, is in the final season of the four-year, $71MM deal he signed with the Knicks in 2017. New York faced some criticism at the time of the signing for what was perceived as an overpay, but Hardaway has lived up to his end of the bargain, averaging 16.9 points on .423/.364/.825 shooting and playing solid defense in 263 games (30.5 MPG) for the Knicks and Mavericks over the life of the contract.
Having made 39.4% of his three-point attempts during the last two years in Dallas, Hardaway has gotten even hotter to start the postseason, averaging 24.5 PPG and making 11-of-17 threes in the Mavs’ two wins over the Clippers in Los Angeles. If he keeps it up and helps push the team to the second round, that should only help his stock in free agency.
According to Basketball Insiders’ data, the Mavs currently have approximately $73MM in guaranteed money on their books for 2021/22. Theoretically, Dallas could create a sizeable chunk of cap room, but that would depend on what they do with free agents like Hardaway, J.J. Redick, and Boban Marjanovic. Josh Richardson‘s $11.6MM player option and Willie Cauley-Stein‘s $4.1MM team option are also wild cards that could impact the club’s flexibility.
Even if the Mavs were to carve out significant cap space, it’s unclear whether they’d realistically be able to land anyone who fits the current roster better than Hardaway, considering this year’s free agent class isn’t particularly star-studded. Focusing on re-signing the veteran wing makes sense, though it may take an offer that matches or exceeds his previous $18MM annual salary to lock him up.