After signing a four-year, $71 million offer sheet to join the Knicks, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was still surprised that New York offered him such a significant deal, according to ESPN's Pablo Torre.
"Tim Hardaway Jr.'s first words after signing that contract: 'Man, that's crazy,' " Torre said, according to NBC Sports' Dan Feldman.
The Knicks' offer was approximately $25 million more than what Hardaway was projected to earn, according to FanSided's Phil Veasley. Knicks president Steve Mills said the team needed to be "aggressive" when pursuing Hardaway, a restricted free agent with the Atlanta Hawks, because he felt Hardaway had a lot of potential.
"We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old," Mills said. "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."
Hardaway, who played his first two seasons with the Knicks before they traded him to Atlanta in June 2015, averaged a career-high 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 79 games with Atlanta last season. Over his four seasons in the league, he has averaged 11 points and 2.1 rebounds.
While he said he is optimistic in his and the team's potential in the 2017-18 season, he told the New York Post's Steve Serby he felt he was worth the contract, which also includes a 15 percent trade kicker.
"I think so. I know so," Hardaway said. "I know how much work I've put into the offseason, I know how much work I put in during the season, and I don't think it's a mistake at all."
Atlanta offered Hardaway a $4.6 million qualifying offer at the end of the season, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore, which Hardaway declined.
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Hardaway had about the same exact reaction as every Knicks fan on the planet to the team giving him $71 million over four years. He's right: The Knicks were crazy. There's a reason the Knicks' offer was $25 million more than what he was supposed to earn.
They overpaid their former guard by a longshot as the free-agent options continued to trickle down. Who would have thought after trading the guy, the Knicks would bring him back ... for nearly $18 million a year?! That said, it's a better deal clearly than signing the injury-prone Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million deal -- that's a contract they will be stuck with that nobody will trade for.
Has Hardaway gotten better since the Knicks let him go? Yes. Is he young? Yes. Does he have talent? Yes. But he's an average player. He won't be a star in this league and his overall numbers across the board are nothing to write home about. The Knicks were aggressive in going after him. Now they need Hardaway to play more aggressively than his 2.8-rebound and 2.3-assist average.
Hardaway also will need to be strong defensively. He has a big role for this team, especially if they trade Carmelo Anthony. They need him to put up more than 14 points per game, but they also need him to take the rest of his game to another level if he's going to live up to the "crazy" contract he was given.