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Tim Hardaway Jr. discusses his development and free agency status

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Hardaway credits the Hawks for his development.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that Tim Hardaway Jr. has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season for the Atlanta Hawks. His tenure in a Hawks uniform has often been a roller coaster ride for the fanbase.

Hardaway recently talked about his growth and his pending free agency this summer with Detroit Free Press reporter Chris Nelson.

"Everybody wants a big payday, but you have to earn it," Hardaway Jr. said Wednesday. "You have to show you're worthy of it."

"My agent takes care of that," he said. "Honestly, Atlanta has built me into a better basketball player, and I'm a lot more mature."

The Hawks acquired Hardaway in a draft night trade in 2015 that cost Atlanta their first round pick. That move drew jeers from most of the NBA media after Hardaway had been a disappointment during his time in New York. Things didn’t get better when he opened the 2016 season on the inactive list and then later found himself playing in the D-League.

Hardaway is also an example that sometimes these things take time. He worked his way onto the court during the second half of the 2016 season and has emerged as a key player for the Hawks this season averaging 12 points on a career-best 45 percent shooting.

Hardaway will enter restricted free agency this summer which means that the Hawks will have the right to match any offer. He has earned a much bigger contract and security with his play this season. Atlanta invested heavily last summer to retain the services of Kent Bazemore. It will be interesting to see where the price for Hardaway falls and how high the Hawks are willing to go to keep him.

You can’t help but be happy for a guy like Hardaway. He had every opportunity to resist going to the D-League or complain about his lack of playing time. To his credit, he double down and worked that much harder and it has paid off.