New York — Tim Hardaway Jr. thought with Phil Jackson gone, maybe there was a chance someday he could come back to New York.
Even he was surprised it was this soon.
With Jackson and his triangle offense gone, the Knicks reached back to their past to sign Hardaway, a former first-round pick who didn’t fit under Jackson but they hope can flourish without him.
“I definitely left with a bad taste in my mouth and just to have that opportunity to come back here is very rare, so you’ve got to make the most of that,” Hardaway said Monday.
Jackson and the Knicks parted ways last month after three dismal seasons and were quiet at the start of free agency until signing Hardaway to an offer sheet for a four-year, $71 contract. When the Hawks decided not to match the offer for the restricted free agent, Hardaway was officially a Knick again on Saturday.
“You play here for two years and then you’re gone and then two years after you get a phone call and it’s like, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t expect it coming from them,’ ” Hardaway said.
Hardaway, a 6-foot-6 guard, was the No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft after helping Michigan reach the NCAA championship game and was voted to the All-Rookie first team. Jackson was hired as team president late in that season, fired coach Mike Woodson and hired Derek Fisher to replace him and implement the triangle.
Hardaway shot 39 percent in 2014-15 as the Knicks stumbled to a franchise-worst 17-65 finish, and Jackson dealt Hardaway to Atlanta in a three-team deal on draft night for the rights to first-round pick Jerian Grant.
“It was a tough season for everybody on that team and they had to make changes. At the end of the day it’s a business and the goal is to make your team better,” Hardaway said. “They had a decision to make, they made it and I rolled with it, and I was grateful that a team like Atlanta really wanted me to be a part of their franchise.”
Hardaway averaged a career-best 14.5 points last season and the Knicks noticed, making an offer that not only was too much for the Hawks to match.
Heat moves forward
Pat Riley has a trip to his California home awaiting, followed by a vacation with his wife.
He can now relax a little.
The 2017-18 Heat are going to look a lot like the 2016-17 Heat, and the team president is just fine with that arrangement. Riley said he thinks bringing back Dion Waiters and James Johnson and signing them to four-year deals, combined with the surprise addition of Kelly Olynyk, gives Miami a real shot at picking up where it left off last season.
The way he sees it, now it’s up to those signees to deliver on promises.
“I think in training camp, they have to look at it with great foresight for the future — but also they have to back up their words somewhat with their play,” Riley said. “So it’ll be very interesting this year when we go to training camp to see where their heads are, and I’m convinced they’ll come ready. They think they’re a good team and they’ll get it together. I’m excited about it.”
The Timberwolves have finalized contracts with power forward Taj Gibson and point guard Jeff Teague.
Gibson (two years, $28 million) and Teague (three years, $57 million) agreed to terms earlier this month.
The Wolves also agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Jamal Crawford, but to comply with the salary cap he can’t be signed until clearing waivers.
... The Grizzlies signed guard Tyreke Evans to a reported one-year, $3.3 million deal.
The 6-6 Evans, who played collegiately at Memphis, split last season between the Pelicans and Kings.