NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — So much for taking a cautious path.
With the rebuilding Knicks currently without a head of basketball operations due to last week’s dismissal of team president Phil Jackson, the belief was that general manager Steve Mills wouldn’t do anything outlandish this offseason.
NBA insiders kept stressing that now would not be the best time to spend big money on anyone, unless it was a move New York could not resist. Some even suggested that tanking the 2017-18 season to get a top draft pick while saving money for a quick turnaround would be the most prudent approach.
Mills clearly didn’t get that memo.
In a move that stunned many, the Knicks ignored the insiders and instead signed veteran shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet late Thursday night, ESPN reported.
Hardaway is a restricted free agent, so the Atlanta Hawks will have two days to match the offer.
Hardaway was the Knicks’ first-round draft pick in 2013, but he struggled to develop his game and was eventually traded to Atlanta for the rights to guard Jerian Grant, who was selected No. 19 overall by the Washington Wizards in 2015. The Knicks later dealt Grant to Chicago in a trade for Derrick Rose.
Hardaway seemed to become a more well-round player in 2016-17, averaging 14.5 points, refining his outside shooting, and upping his defensive game. He was especially good over the final six weeks of the regular season, averaging 18 points and shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.
The issue the Knicks have from a financial standpoint is they already have shooting guard Courtney Lee under contract. Lee has three years remaining on the four-year, $52 million deal he signed as a free agent last season.
New York attempted to free up some salary cap space by releasing center Marshall Plumlee on Friday morning.
The Knicks are also reportedly in the market for a veteran point guard to help teach 18-year-old first-round draft pick Frank Ntilikina the ropes. On its apparent wish list is Boston’s Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo, who played for the Chicago Bulls last season, and Shelvin Mack, most recently of the Utah Jazz.
New York had reportedly expressed interest in Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, George Hill, and Michael Carter-Williams, but all four were snatched up after free agency opened Saturday. Teague signed with Minnesota, Holiday re-upped with New Orleans, Hill landed in Sacramento, and Carter-Williams went to Charlotte.
In addition to their backcourt issues, the Knicks have been trying to move on from Carmelo Anthony. The 32-year-old star forward, who is owed roughly $54 million over the final two seasons of his contract, will reportedly agree to waive his no-trade clause, but only to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets.