In the wake of news that the New York Knicks provided free agent shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. with a four-year, $71 million offer sheet, there was plenty of shock around the NBA world. Now, a report has emerged that the Atlanta Hawks will take the logical approach and forego their option to match the contract offer, allowing Hardaway Jr. to begin his second tour of duty in New York.
Atlanta will not match New York's $71M offer sheet to Tim Hardaway Jr., but official notification still hours away, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2017
Later, Chris Vivlamore of the AJC confirmed the report that the Hawks would be moving on.
Confirmed that Hawks will not match Tim Hardaway Jr. offer sheet.— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) July 8, 2017
Hardaway Jr. made great strides during his two-year tenure in Atlanta, transforming himself into a highly useful offensive player while improving to the point of being passable defensively. With that said, there are still valid questions on whether the 25-year-old is a starting-caliber player on a quality team moving forward and this contract does not allow for wiggle room in that event that his growth does not continue.
Atlanta invested a four-year, $70 million contract in Kent Bazemore 12 months ago and the returns have not been tremendous. With that said, the 2016 offseason was a whirlwind for many teams and simply paying Bazemore that kind of money does not serve as a justification for making a similar pact with Hardaway Jr. at this time.
It is always brutal to lose an asset for nothing but, with the way that the Knicks structured the contract (big money, player option, trade kicker), it became the only rational path for the Hawks in this instance. Now, Atlanta can continue searching for ways to use its cap space effectively in the coming days but it appears that Tim Hardaway Jr.’s career with the Hawks will come to an end after 130 appearances.