Tim Hardaway Jr. starts anew with Hawks
The Knicks' loss is the Hawks' gain.
At least that's how Tim Hardaway Jr. and Hawks management see it.
The Hawks acquired the former Michigan player from the Knicks in a draft-night trade Thursday. They moved from the No. 15 to the No. 19 pick, acquiring two future second-round draft picks from the Wizards. Minutes later, they traded that pick, Jerian Grant, to the Knicks for third-year shooting guard Hardaway. Knicks president Phil Jackson said following the deal that he considered Grant a better fit than Hardaway. It's a point that Hardaway will carry with him as he brings his shooting ability to the Hawks.
"For sure," Hardaway said following his introductory news conference Monday on whether he will carry a chip on his shoulder. "Once I heard him say that, all hands on deck now. Obviously as a basketball player, you take that to heart. So, it's time to move on, get better and when the time comes, the time comes. Right now, it's all about Atlanta basketball."
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer reiterated Monday that he has long had his eye on Hardaway. Another shooter is a valuable asset.
"Everybody here, and throughout the league, knows how much we value shooting," Budenholzer said. "So, I think Tim's ability to make shots in different situations, whether it's coming off screens, spotting up. The more shot-makers you have the more difficult you are to guard. When you are playing unselfishly and the ball is moving and you have the court with great spacing and great opportunities, whether it's Tim or somebody else, that's always something we have a high value for.
"I think at 6-6, his size, his athleticism, are in some ways overshadowed by his shooting. And so we feel we are getting a player who brings a lot to the table with his shooting, his size, his athleticism, getting to the paint, but somebody who can also grow in our system and learn how to incorporate all those skills into our group."
Hardaway said he has seen what Budenholzer's system has done for players like Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver. All three have blossomed in Atlanta with roles many around the league did not consider. It's his turn.
"It's a great opportunity," Hardaway said. "I'm going to take advantage of it. Coach Bud has done a great job with the players that he's had for these past couple of years in making them better. It all comes from being more mature and listening to what he has to say. Why not?"
In his two seasons with the Knicks since being the No. 24 pick out of Michigan, Hardaway shot .408 from the floor and .353 from 3-point range. He figures his shooting percentage will improve in the Hawks' system.
One of the knocks on Hardaway has been his defense. Budenholzer sees it as an area for improvement — not unlike everyone on his team.
"All of our players we are constantly trying to get them to improve and get better defensively," Budenholzer said. "I don't think Tim is any different. We are hoping that he is going to grow and evolve defensively, both individually and within the team concepts. I don't think there is a reason to think he can't."
Hardaway wouldn't divulge details of his conversation with Knicks star Carmelo Anthony following the trade. Anthony reportedly called his now-former teammate to voice his displeasure with the move.
"I'm not sharing anything," Hardaway said. "That's between me and Melo and it's going to stay that way. You guys read it and that's all I've got to say."
It is time to move on.