Tim Hardaway Jr. has enjoyed a breakout season for the Knicks, taking on the scoring load with Kristaps Porzingis recovering from his torn ACL while rounding out his game in other areas.
His improving efficiency and playmaking makes his contract look more and more reasonable, and with a potential regression and monster free agency looming, the Knicks could be inclined to listen to offers for their stud shooting guard. Here are a few directions they could go in if they decide to trade Hardaway...
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina for Andrew Wiggins
This is about as wild as the Knicks could go with a Hardaway Jr. package. Giving up a dependable piece and prospect to take a shot on Andrew Wiggins and his mega-deal doesn't fall into either the patient, "trust the process" rebuild or the Kevin Durant-Kawhi Leonard-Kemba Walker-etc. sweepstakes play. This essentially locks down a piece if the Knicks don't want to put all their cards in the draft or free agency. Whether Wiggins continues to underwhelm defensively and only marginally improve on the other end or finally blossom into the No. 1 pick Minnesota expected will decide if it's close to worth it.
Tim Hardaway Jr. for Goran Dragic
A simple swap that could entice the Knicks in a couple of ways. First, Goran Dragic's contract is a year shorter than Hardaway Jr.'s. Secondly, his game would likely mesh better with some of the marquee free agents New York is pursuing. Until THJ shows significant strides on defense, he's better suited as one of the primary scoring options on his team, and he's far more effective with the ball in his hands than without it. On a team with Porzingis and say, Kevin Durant, that might not play out as well as the Knicks would like. Dragic also represents a stronger win-now commitment, and could play mentor to New York's crop of developing guards. For Miami, this is a deal that makes them more athletic and more explosive on the offensive end, while injecting more youth in their rotation.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and a 2nd round pick for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma
The Lakers haven't gotten off to the start they hoped for, and a shake-up like this could be what they're looking for. Hardaway Jr. would give them the legitimate three-point threat they desperately need, as well as someone who can be the focal point of an offense for small stretches. This is the most ideal situation for the Knicks to jump on, getting an expiring contract in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and an intriguing young piece in Kyle Kuzma.
Tim Hardaway Jr. for Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock
One of the more modest deals the Knicks could pull, perhaps with a sweetner of a second-round pick from Detroit. Both Ish Smith's and Reggie Bullock's deals are coming off the books this summer, with the option to lock down the latter on an extension. Bullock has developed into a nice 3-and-D wing, while Leuer, the only long-term deal involved, would be a helpful floor-spacer off the bench and paired with Porzingis. Smith can service as a steadying veteran point guard and take the likes of Ntilikina and Allonzo Trier under his wing. Detroit would be plenty enticed with the idea of adding Hardaway Jr.'s outside game to their interior powerhouse of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Tim Hardaway Jr. for Jeremy Lin and DeAndre' Bembry
Like the Lakers deal, an expiring deal and intriguing prospect would head to the Knicks. This deal would mean a return back to the team New York had traded Hardaway Jr. to in the past, and a chance for him to continue his evolution as a lead scorer without the lights of Madison Square Garden constantly scrutinizing. The Hawks' stockpile of wing prospects could mean they'd be willing to part with DeAndre' Bembry, who is similar to Hardaway Jr. in build with a higher ceiling on his all-around impact. Also: Linsanity!