The Hawks have a hard decision to make revolving Tim Hardaway Jr. The New York Knicks have inked THJ to a four year, $71 million offer sheet, which is being considered an overpay league-wide. Atlanta now has under 40 hours to decide whether to match.
It would be hard to see Timmy go. The Hawks invested heavily in him, giving up a first rounder for his services. Though he struggled initially upon arriving in Atlanta, his conditioning and greater understanding of Coach Bud’s system and defensive rotations elevated his game. Hardaway Jr. likely deserved more love as far as the Most Improved Player award goes. THJ passed Hawks University with flying colors, and the team was willing to match reasonable offers and make him apart of their future, as he looked to be a future part of the Hawks young core.
Unfortunately, the toxic contract of Kent Bazemore will likely ensure the Hawks do not retain him. They are essentially paying him the same salary that THJ would get, and due to his performance there is no way he can be moved. The Hawks were willing to match offers in the 4-year/$48 million range, but the Knicks overpaid in hopes Atlanta would not match. Paying Timmy would contradict the flexibility that Travis Schlenk has emphasized thus far throughout his short tenure.
If the Hawks had more salary room, this would be a no-brainer. The Knicks certainly overpaid a bit, but if Bazemore, Crawford, and Plumlee were not on the books, you could justify giving Hardaway Jr. this money. However, Schlenk faces the fear of issuing another bad contract and digging the Hawks in an even deeper hole.
The Knicks have put the Hawks in quite the predicament. Go ahead, vote now and check out what the rest of the Atlanta sports fans are thinking!
4-years, $71 million for THJ. Should Hawks match?
— SportsTalkATL.com (@SportsTalkATL) July 7, 2017
Fans are split, but the reality is that the Hawks are in a pretty terrible cap situation. The only good news is that if Hardaway Jr. walks, Atlanta will most definitely be in the conversation for a top 5 pick next season.
The Hawks also have a backup option on the market as well, as Georgian Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was renounced by the Detroit Pistons and is now a free agent. He could fill in that role that Hardaway Jr. filled as a pure scorer. The team may also stand pat to ensure their draft status.
The Hawks could also come to terms on a buyout with Jamal Crawford or use the stretch provision to create more cap space if they feel that Timmy is a guy they must keep.