Tim Hardaway Jr.

Knicks Notes: Hardaway Jr., Ntilikina, Hornacek

The Knicks may have been onto something with Tim Hardaway Jr. all along. As Marc Berman of the New York Post writes, the shooting guard, whose four-year, $71MM contract was ridiculed at the time of signing, is starting to live up to his lofty contract.

Over the course of the past nine games, the 25-year-old has averaged 20.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Now, as Newsday’s Barbara Barker writes in her own feature, the swingman is stepping up as a valuable No. 2 option for the Knicks behind Kristaps Porzingis.

While the deal was initially panned when it was announced, Berman reasons that Steve Mills and the Knicks’ front office, leery of losing out on another coveted free agent, had to offer a big enough deal to discourage the Hawks from matching.

There’s more Knicks news today:

  • First-year point guard Frank Ntilikina has thrived for the Knicks on both ends of the ball. His impact thus far into his rookie campaign has been beyond what most predicted, Ian Begley of ESPN writes. “It’s great that a young guy comes into this league with more defensive principles than the offensive principles,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “It’s hard to teach.”
  • The Knicks have more confidence in their offense now that Jeff Hornacek has been cleared to run his own plays, ESPN’s Ian Begley writes. “Our guys are feeling comfortable with what we’re running,” the coach said. “We’re going to get better at that. It’s a style most of those guys like to play. It makes it easier for them.
  • With Phil Jackson out of the picture, the Knicks’ front office is easing tension with Janis Porzingis. Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that the brother of Kristaps Porzingis, who also serves as the star’s agent, was recently seen amiably chatting with team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Knicks Would Have Pushed For George Hill If Not For Jackson’s Ouster

When they host the Kings on Saturday, the Knicks will get a first-hand look at a point guard who they may very well have signed if not for the front office overhaul in New York. Former Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson had made George Hill his top free agent target before he was ousted, a league source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post.

According to Berman’s source, Jackson believed Hill would be capable of mastering the triangle offense, and would serve as an excellent mentor for rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina. Hill, who is friends with Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah, was prepared to discuss contract terms with the Knicks on July 1, Berman writes. With Steve Mills running the show in Jackson’s place by that point though, the club’s interest in Hill was minimal.

At this point, the Knicks’ offseason interest in Hill under Jackson isn’t all that relevant, but it makes for a fascinating “what-if,” since it would have set off a chain reaction that impacted other free agents. Hill ultimately signed a three-year deal worth $57MM with the Kings. If he had received a competitive offer in that range from the Knicks, the team would have almost certainly been out of the running for Tim Hardaway Jr., who may have ended up accepting a more modest contract offer to return to Atlanta.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that Scott Perry, the Knicks’ current general manager, was with Sacramento when the Kings signed Hill. If he had joined the Knicks immediately after Jackson’s dismissal, perhaps New York would have gone just as hard after Hill as Jackson intended to. Perry was hired by the Knicks in mid-July.

As it stands, the Knicks can make the case that they made the right decision in pursuing Hardaway over Hill. Even though Hardaway’s contract was widely panned and may still prove to be a misguided investment, he’s probably a better fit for the Knicks right now than Hill. Jarrett Jack has performed well as Ntilikina’s mentor at point guard, and has done so on a much more affordable contract than Hill’s. Meanwhile, Hill’s 7.8 PPG and .406 FG% in the early going with the Kings are his worst marks since his rookie season in 2008/09.

Knicks Notes: Irving, Hardaway, Lee, Kanter

“Close to home” was the explanation Kyrie Irving gave to reporters Tuesday about including the Knicks on his list of possible destinations, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, the Celtics’ new point guard was careful not to say much more as the media congregated around his locker.

“It’s pretty easy man. They were on my list for a reason, I think you guys know that,” Irving explained. “Close to home, that’s about it. I’m not going to go into detail about all that extra stuff because I know where this is going to lead. … Cameras all here, I know exactly where this is going to go.”

New York was among four preferred cities that Irving gave to Cavaliers management when he requested a trade this summer. The Knicks reportedly offered Carmelo Anthony and a collection of draft picks to Cleveland, but never came close to a deal. “Playing with a guy like that would make the game a lot easier,’’ Kristaps Porzingis said. “That’s dreaming how it would be. He’s not here with us. He’s in Boston. That type of player would bring a lot to this team.’’

There’s more out of New York this morning:

  • The Knicks are still waiting for Tim Hardaway Jr. to display some of the promise that led them to give him a four-year, $71MM contract, Berman writes in a separate piece. Hardaway continues to struggle with his shot, going 2-of-11 in the loss to the Celtics to bring his shooting percentage for the season to .243.
  • Courtney Lee suggests a lack of focus is contributing to the team’s winless start, Ian Begley posts on ESPN Now. He says some of his teammates need to “pay more attention in practice” and are messing up plays during games. “If we miss shots, we miss shots,” Lee said. “That’s part of the game. But not being in the right position takes away a shot for your teammates. We got to learn the plays.” Coach Jeff Hornacek believes the problem is a result of a shorter preaseason, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.
  • The only encouraging sign Tuesday night was the play of center Enes Kanter, who posted 16 points and 19 rebounds. Kanter has played so well since being acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade that Willy Hernangomez has been pushed out of the rotation, writes Fred Kerber of The New York Post.

Knicks Notes: Hernangomez, Hardaway, Porzingis, Ntilikina

Knicks center Willy Hernangomez isn’t hiding his anger after playing less than four minutes in the team’s first two games, relays Fred Kerber of The New York Post. Hernangomez looked like part of the team’s future after a promising rookie season, but he has fallen to third on the depth chart, with Enes Kanter, acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade, as the starter and Kyle O’Quinn as the backup.

Hernangomez played the final 3:46 of Thursday’s blowout loss in Oklahoma City, then never left the bench in Saturday’s home opener. After the game, he let reporters know that he’s not happy with the current situation. “I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.” Coach Jeff Hornacek met with Hernangomez this week and told him he needs to improve on defense.

There’s more news today out of New York:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. hasn’t done much so far to ease the concerns of Knicks fans about his four-year, $71MM contract, writes Howie Kussoy of The New York Post. New York’s prize free agent addition of the summer made just four of 16 shots Saturday, following a 3-of-10 performance in the opener. “I missed a couple easy ones here and there, shots that I would normally make,” Hardaway said. “Just tough to see those not go down. My teammates did a great job of keeping me in it, telling me to keep shooting. … I just didn’t get it done. It’s still a new offense, but at the same time, [I] just got to find ways to get to the line, get to the basket a little more, finish around the basket when I’m there. I missed a lot of bunnies I wish I could take back.”
  • Kristaps Porzingis is still getting used to the role of primary scorer in the wake of the Anthony trade, according to Ian Begley of ESPN. Porzingis hit 3-of-7 shots late in Saturday’s game, but passed up a 3-pointer in the final seconds for a layup that was blocked.
  • The early part of Frank Ntilikina‘s NBA career has been marked by injuries, but the Knicks remain excited about the French point guard, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ntilikina, who was limited to one preseason game because of a bruised knee, sat out Saturday’s contest after spraining his ankle at Friday’s practice. “I think what everybody first saw is I think he can touch everyone out there in TV land, you know his arms are so long,” Hornacek said. “Even this week in practice, when he guards guys, they don’t think he’s close enough to steal the ball, and then he just reaches out and hits the ball and gets a steal.”

Knicks Notes: Measuring Success, Height, Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks may not be a likely bet to contend for a playoff spot without Carmelo Anthony but that doesn’t mean that the season can’t still end up being worthwhile. Marc Berman of The New York Post spoke about the state of the franchise with analyst and former New York guard Greg Anthony.

This year, the broadcaster says, the team will need to gain confidence, establish leadership and grow team chemistry, whether they find themselves in the hunt for a postseason bid or not.

Regardless of the team’s win total, however, the organization’s new front office tandem of Steve Mills and Scott Perry will be under the microscope. After the disappointing reign of Phil Jackson, Berman writes that it will be hard for them to be any worse.

There’s more from the Knicks:

  • There’s a good chance that Kristaps Porzingis will one day be the face of the Knicks franchise but head coach Jeff Hornacek thinks that his 22-year-old star will need to grow into that role in time, Ian Begley of ESPN writes.
  • The Knicks are an unusually tall team at a time when some of the NBA’s most successful franchises are going small, Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times writes.
  • When summer signee Tim Hardaway Jr. was shipped off from the Knicks to the Hawks and then demoted to the team’s G League affiliate, it served as a wake up call, the guard told Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “[Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer] putting me down there just made me realize you got to work hard, man. You can’t come here expecting to play. I thought I was going to come in and play. I realized I had veterans in front of me that I had to outwork and compete each and every day. Once I got better he trusted me in that process and it got me to where I am right now.”

Atlantic Notes: Hardaway, Celtics, Knicks, Raptors

Few contracts signed during the 2017 offseason drew as much criticism as the offer sheet Tim Hardaway Jr. inked with the Knicks, which the Hawks decided not to match. The four-year, $71MM investment in a player who has averaged 11.0 career PPG raised eyebrows around the NBA, but Hardaway said today that he couldn’t care less about league observers questioning his deal (link via Ian Begley of ESPN.com).

“People need to move on, move forward with that,” Hardaway said of his new contract with the Knicks. “That’s in the past right now. We’ve got to get ready for the season. And if they’re still harping on that, then their mind is somewhere else. I’m focused on the team, I’m here to win. And I know my teammates and the coaching staff, everybody that’s in that front office has that faith and trust in me that I’m going go out there and do everything I can to help the team win.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • In explaining why he was willing to include the Nets‘ 2018 first-round pick in his trade offer for Kyrie Irving, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he felt he owed it to veterans like Gordon Hayward and Al Horford to cash in some of the club’s assets for a star (video link via CSNNE.com). Hayward and Horford have chosen Boston in free agency over the last two years, and are ready to contend for a spot in the Finals.
  • Speaking of Irving, he’s among the new Celtics who are appreciative of the team’s philosophy on rest and recovery in between games, as Taylor C. Snow of Celtics.com details in an interesting piece.
  • Now that the Knicks are all-in on rebuilding, there are some reasons to be excited about basketball in New York, argues Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Hamilton identifies rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina as a player who has the potential to be a diamond in the rough for the Knicks.
  • While Raptors head coach Dwane Casey would ideally love to have eight or 10 “seasoned veterans” in his rotation, the club will be relying on youngsters like Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam to play major roles this season, and they feel like they’re ready, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.

Knicks Notes: Houston, Hardaway, Anthony, Contract Details, Artis

Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston feels that New York is on the right track, relays Bob Herzog of Newsday. Although he would not comment on whether Carmelo Anthony would be playing for the Knicks next season, Houston was effusive in his praise of his new bosses, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

“Steve and Scott have been intentional in their language about what we want to be,” said Houston. “It starts with identifying what you want to be and then going out and doing it. When I was here playing, it was very exciting and we had an identity. It’s about establishing that identity again. From what I’ve seen, the players are buying into it. I think it’s the first time in a long time that’s been the case.”

Houston also spoke enthusiastically about Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks’ notable free agent signing this offseason: “I’m excited for him. People tend to forget he was 20 years old coming into this environment [as a rookie]. Everybody has to grow. Everybody has to mature. He’s developed all the way around and he’s prepared himself for this. That’s the mindset I took. You want to be valuable to your family, your community, your franchise.”

Here are other relevant details regarding the Knicks:

  •  Anthony is headed for an awkward preseason, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The star small forward has told the Knicks that he is only willing to waive his no-trade clause for a deal with the Rockets, but the two sides have not been close on a trade. Berman writes that there is a chance that Melo will be forced to attend training camp, which will begin September 25. If Anthony holds out, it will cost him money. If he attends training camp, expect a great deal of awkwardness.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN reports that both Knicks free agent signees Jamel Artis and Xavier Rathan-Mayes have an Exhibit 10 in their contract. This means that each player would receive a $50K bonus if he is waived and would pend 60 days with the Knicks G-League team. Unlike the protection for Nigel Hayes, the Exhibit 10 bonus doesn’t impact the Knicks cap.
  • In another story penned by Marc Berman, the writer explains how the Knicks ensured that the undrafted Artis would not get away after his impressive Summer League performance. After a forgettable first game, Artis averaged 10.1 points, while shooting over 50% in his last four contests. “I feel great about making the team,’’ Artis said. “It’s just my competitiveness. I feel I bring a lot to the game and am better than a lot of people, but I want to keep being humble. I feel I’m better than some guys that got drafted.’’

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Beasley, Artis, Porzingis

The Knicks made a sizable commitment to Tim Hardaway Jr. this offseason, bringing the former Knick back home after inking him to a four-year, $71MM deal. While there’s a lot of apprehensions about Hardaway’s deal, Knicks’ assistant general manager and former guard Allan Houston cannot wait to see how the team’s draft pick from 2013 establishes himself, Thomas Lipe of the New York Post writes.

Speaking at Hofstra University with his youth program, Houston said the current version of Hardaway is more seasoned and talented than several years ago.

“I’m excited for [Hardaway],” Houston said. “When you’re 20 years old and you’re coming into this environment, everybody has to grow and everybody has to mature. He’s developed all the way around and he’s prepared himself for this. So he’s prepared for it.” 

Houston himself is no stranger to large contracts with the Knicks as he signed a six-year, $100MM pact with the team in 2001. While Houston was more established at the time of his deal, he was also older and injuries prevented him from playing out the entirety of the contract. Hardaway, still just 25 years old, brings youth and upside to a rebuilding Knicks team. Houston feels that Hardaway can live up to expectations by not just strong on-court performance but strong off court work as well.

“The mindset I took is: you come in, you put your work in, you treat your whole being, your whole life, like you want to make the most out of it,” Houston said. “You want to be valuable, not in terms of money, but you want to be valuable to your family, your community, to the franchise. That’s where [Hardaway’s] mindset is.”

Read additional notes surrounding the Knicks below:

  • In a resounding interview with Marc Berman of the New York Post, free agent signing Michael Beasley referred to himself as a “walking bucket” who has not received the respect he deserves. The former second overall pick says he’s long past his prior marijuana suspension and said that people still dwelling on his past issues need to emulate him by growing up. For his career. Beasley has averaged 12.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG across nine NBA seasons with five different teams.
  • Just prior to signing with the Knicks, Jamel Artis spoke to Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports. The former Pittsburgh forward expressed his excitement to join the New York squad and said his offensive skill set would mesh well with the current core.
  • A recent report indicated the Cavaliers‘ interest to acquire a budding young star in a trade for Kyrie Irving with Kristaps Porzingis topping the list. Fred Kerber of the New York Post cites league source who claim “no proposal exists” in which the Knicks part with Porzingis for Irving. Kerber adds that while the New Jersey native Irving would like a homecoming to New York, it will not come at the expense of the team’s Latvian standout.

Knicks Notes: Hardaway, Porzingis, Draft, Perry

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.”

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Perry, Wiley

While much of the credit for “the process” can be attributed to Sam Hinkie, current general manager Bryan Colangelo has made a series of moves to keep the Sixers headed in the right direction, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes.

This summer Colangelo opted to bring a pair of veterans aboard and the impact they’ll have on the Sixers is clear.

Now we have guys that can help grow the program with leadership, mentorship, and professionalism,” Colangelo said of the newest Sixers, Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • That’s enough optimism for one week, Knicks fans. Marc Berman of the New York Post devoted a column to recently appointed general manager Scott Perry‘s involvement in the front office that gave Bismack Biyombo a four-year, $71MM contract.
  • After growing as a player, Tim Hardaway Jr. believes that Knicks fans skeptical of his lofty contract will see that the controversial move wasn’t a mistake. The shooting guard opened up to Steve Serby of New York Post about his return to the team that drafted him.
  • The 7-11 nickname for Celtics wings Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum was never meant to be, D.J. Bean of CSN New England writes. Following the trade that sent Avery Bradley to the Pistons, Tatum has decided to re-adopt the jersey number he wore during his one season at Duke: 0.
  • Now signed to a two-way contract with the Nets, recently acquired Jacob Wiley has an opportunity he never envisioned as recently as six months ago. Brian Lewis of the New York Post has penned an excellent feature on the forward’s tumultuous path.
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