NYPost The Knicks are hoping the phrase “like father, like son” will bear fruit at the Garden. The Knicks selected Tim Hardaway Jr. last night with the 24th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft. Hardaway’s selection was cheered at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center even though his father, Tim Hardaway, was always booed in New York as a hated member of the Heat. “He’s obviously got some good bloodlines from someone who had a great NBA career,” Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said. The Michigan shooting guard had a great workout with the Knicks this month and helped lead the Wolverines to the NCAA championship game. The Knicks were impressed by Tim Hardaway Jr. during recent workouts and didn’t hesitate to pick him when he was still on the board at No. 24 during the NBA Draft last night.”We think we added a good piece to our team, talented, good worker, good athlete who comes from a great program,” Grunwald said. The cheers for Hardaway were a rarity for a Knicks selection. Even the biggest cynic couldn’t dispute this safe, solid pick as the Knicks brace for the possibility of J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland fleeing as free agents. “I thought about how his father used to kill the Knicks,” superfan Spike Lee said on ESPN when asked his initial reaction. Hardaway Jr. shot lights out during his workout with the Knicks, is a good defender and scouts have called him a “pro’s pro.” His father, once the archrival of the Knicks and assistant GM Allan Houston, made the All-Star Team five times. Houston, who warred against Hardaway in the late 1990s playoff series between the clubs, sat next to Grunwald in the war room at the Knicks’ Westchester facility when the pick was made. “I think the wound has healed a little bit for Allan,” Grunwald said. “I know Allan’s excited about this, too. Hopefully Allan can add something to his development because they are similar players.” The Knicks were looking for perimeter help – a defender who can shoot the 3-pointer. The Knicks also are bracing for the possibility of losing Smith, though sources said the club believes he will re-sign. “We were impressed with [Hardaway’s] interview, shooting, athleticism and his overall demeanor,” Grunwald said. “He’s a really good worker. He competes too [like his father]. “We were looking for someone who could contribute right away next year, filling a need on our team but the primary reason we drafted him is he was the best player available. It’s also true we only have two players under contract for guards.” Hardaway’s agent, Mark Bartelstein said his client would be “a tremendous” fit for the Knicks. “[Hardaway Sr.] is thrilled to death,” Bartelstein told The Post. “It’s the dream of any father to have his son play for the New York Knicks.” Hardaway averaged 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his three seasons at Michigan. He’s known as an excellent catch-and-shoot marksman, but one scout questioned his shot selection and passing ability. The Knicks were concerned Hardaway would be selected by the Bulls with the 20th pick, but Chicago instead picked small forward Tony Snell. The Knicks’ long-range plan is to have Carmelo Anthony at power forward and they felt they needed another 2-3 – especially with Smith’s uncertain future. Grunwald said when free agency begins July 1 the Knicks will add a point guard and a big man. “He’s a kid who loves the biggest stage, Michigan is a big stage and there’s no bigger stage than New York,” Bartelstein said. “Nothing could be better.” Hardaway compiled 1,532 points at Michigan, 18th in school history. He was sixth in school history in 3-point field goals made with 202. He started all 107 games he played and missed just one game due to injury. With the 24th pick, the Knicks had a choice of Reggie Bullock or Glen Rice Jr., both high on their board. Though they needed a backup point guard, the Knicks didn’t want to take one unless a pure playmaker fell to them and they didn’t rate South Dakota’s Nate Wolters (taken by the Wizards with the 38th pick in the second round) highly enough.
There is a lot to like about the Knicks selection of Tim Hardaway Jr. last night. Hardaway has a high basketball IQ and is known to have an excellent work ethic, he is a good shooter and defender, who will continue to improve in all facets of the game. I do have some concerns about Hardaway, he is not a great ball handler, and if he could handle the ball like his father he would have been a much higher selection. However, he has an NBA body at 6’6 205lbs and he is an excellent athlete, and he should fit nicely into the Knicks system. I feel like Hardaway will be a better Pro than a college player, during his time at Michigan, the Wolverines were Trey Burke’s team. He now becomes the newest member of Carmelo Anthony’s team, and is he can become a more consistent shooter and a better ball-handler, he could become a big piece of the Knicks future.
You have to wonder of drafting Hardaway is a sign that J.R. Smith’s days with the Knicks are over. The Milwaukee Bucks have been rumored to be mulling making Smith a large contract offer, which the Knicks will have trouble matching.
I also love the addition of undrafted free agent C.J. Leslie, a forward out of NC State, who has a great chance to make the roster. Leslie graded out as the third best athlete in the draft, he also showed an improving perimeter game, and I was shocked he went undrafted.