A lot of Knicks fans have been calling for Tim Hardaway Jr.’s head, and want to serve him up cold on the trading block. For example, people have been saying things like:
Is it me or is Tim Hardaway Jr.s only consistancy is turnovers and lack of scoring..I say its time for him to go!
— John Ng (@ngasain1) December 26, 2018
Tim Hardaway Jr. sure knows how to throw up bricks
— sigh (@advancedstats23) December 25, 2018
These hard feelings come alongside some tough performances from the 6-year guard out of Michigan.
Over the last 10 games, Timmy Jr. has shot .368 from the floor for 17.1 PPG. Also, he actually shoots better in losses than in wins, .378 in the Knicks’ 9 wins and .396 in the 24 losses that Hardaway Jr. has played in (espn.com).
All season long, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been called upon as New York’s leading scorer. Because he is their go-to guy, he has been on the floor more than he has in his entire career. He is currently playing 33.5 minutes per game. He played 33.1 minutes a game last year. In seasons where he plays over 30 minutes a game, he shoots .406 from the floor and has a .484 eFG% (efficient field goal percentage). In the four season where Hardaway has played less than 30 minutes a game, he shoots .426 from the floor and had a .514 eFG% (Basketball-reference.com).
Clearly, when Hardaway Jr. is not carrying the load for his team, he is a more efficient scorer.
The Knicks need Hardaway for the rest of their tanking process as well. Without Hardaway, the responsibility falls directly to Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox. Both players proved they can score so far this year, but this is the first time Mudiay has scored this much in his career and Kevin Knox is a rookie. If Knox was in charge of an offense in Hardaway Jr.’s absence, it would severely affect his development in a detrimental way. There would be no safety net for Knox and his bad performances would compound because there is no one else on the team to pick up Knox’s slack if he struggles.
This would have a negative effect on Knox’s mindset and confidence, and also teach the neophyte some bad habits.
Knox has proven his scoring ability and recently, Knox has been exploding for double figures in the first half, then sputtering out in the second half. That is usually where Hardaway figures things out and begins to hit his shots. Hardaway Jr. is a great crutch for Knox’s development.
Also, Hardaway Jr.’s 5 years of NBA experience makes him the 4th most experience player on the roster behind Courtney Lee (10) and Lance Thomas and Enes Kanter (7 each).
News broke recently that Kanter may be headed to the bench.
David Fizdale and the #Knicks are considering a starting lineup change that would have Luke Kornet starting vs Milwaukee tonight.
This would likely mean Kanter coming off the bench. Considering how poor the starting unit’s defense has been, seems fair to give Kornet a shot
— Knicks Nation (@KnickNationNYC) December 27, 2018
This means that Hardaway Jr. will be the only player with 5+ years of NBA service time in the starting lineup. He can help anchor the blossoming careers of the other 4 starters which will inevitably be paired with some heavy turbulence as players like Mudiay, Kornet, Robinson, Ntilikina an Dotson figure things out.
When Porzingis returns as early as February (hopefully not…but we can discuss that later) and when Steve Mills, the Knicks’ president, signs some marquee free agents in the offseason and drafts at the top of the draft, Hardaway will certainly be subjugated to the bench and most likely be a sixth man on that future roster.
His potent scoring ability and 3-ball threat can make him a viable 6th man of the year candidate in the future for the Knicks.
The Knicks signed Timmy to a 4 year deal last season for $71 million. They should ride out the rest of his contract just to keep this franchise afloat as they search for more pieces to make a NBA Finals run in the future.
That Finals quest will not happen within Hardaway’s current contract. Other NBA teams would be weary to trade for a player like Hardaway for 2 more seasons and that much money. The Knicks would have to eat a majority of his contract if they traded him. They might as well utilize his services for themselves.
His scoring ability is better as a secondary scorer. That role is coming to him in the near future.
I got a Tim Hardawy Jr. jersey for Christmas…but that is not the reason why I ardently demand the Knicks to hold onto Hardaway for the next 2.5 years. The Knicks should keep him to give scoring night in and night out as they continue their journey to the bottom of the standings and a top lottery pick. Also, he will act a scoring support for rookies like Knox as they go through their rookie struggles. Also Hardaway will give guidance to a VERY YOUNG starting lineup.
The Knicks drafted Timmy Jr. in 2013, traded him away, then resigned him, so obviously they see potential in his game. They hopefully see enough potential in Hardaway Jr. to allow him to lead this team for the remainder of the season, then come off the bench as a potent scoring threat for years to come!
Featured Image: By TonyTheTiger - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67752903