Knicks sign Tim Hardaway Jr. to $71 million offer sheet, and everyone has jokes

Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) drives against New York’s Courtney Lee in November. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When the Knicks parted ways with Phil Jackson, were you worried that the team would finally start acting in a sober-minded manner? Fear not! The Knicks were Knicks-ing long before Jackson arrived, and it wasn’t long after his departure that they Knicks’ed their way to an oh-so-Knicks-y contract offer.


Late Thursday evening, reports emerged that New York had signed Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet. Atlanta has the right to match within 48 hours, and to hear more than a few Knicks fans tell it on Twitter, New Yorkers can only hope that they should get so lucky.

In fairness, Hardaway, 25, showed last season that he might be developing into an elite offensive player. Still, he averaged just 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 27.3 minutes, and $71 million seems like a lot to pay for those kind of numbers, especially for a player known as defensive liability.

The Hawks “were thinking something in the neighborhood of $45 [million] for Hardaway,” ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz tweeted. “This latest act of Knickery should make the call easier.”

Adding to the degree of ridicule with which the reported offer was met was the expensive way the Knicks came full circle with Hardaway. New York drafted him 24th overall in 2013, only to trade him to the Hawks during the 2015 draft for Jerian Grant, only to package Grant and Robin Lopez in a 2016 trade with the Bulls for Derrick Rose, only to renounce Rose’s rights Thursday to create salary-cap room to sign Hardaway.

Hey, at least the effect may have been to send Hardaway off for a couple of years to a place where he could get some good coaching in a stable environment, right?

The offer was presumably the brainchild of Knicks General Manager Steve Mills, who is running the show while the team looks for a new president. It remains to be seen how thrilled the new team president is with some of the decisions made before he or she was able to grab the steering wheel.

If Knicks fans want another silver lining of dubious logic, how about this: at least the contract is lower than the four-year, $72.6 million albatross the team gave Joakim Noah last year. Yeah, that’s probably no consolation at all, but unlike Noah, Hardaway does have youth, and a reasonable expectation of improvement, on his side.

Of course, the Knicks also signed another free agent last year to a four-year deal, coming to terms with Courtney Lee on a contract worth $52 million. That would be the same Courtney Lee who plays Hardaway’s position, shooting guard.

Not surprisingly, the Knicks’ latest move of questionable wisdom had the Internet buzzing.

Just in case the Hawks are actually thinking of matching the offer, the Knicks reportedly threw in a 15 percent trade kicker and a player option for the fourth year. Now all New York has to do is figure out how to move Carmelo Anthony, he of the no-trade clause in his $124 million contract.


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