GAMEDAY: We Predicted Hardaway Would Be A Mavs Trade 'Bonus' - But We Didn't Envision This
Let me take us back, almost a year, to when it looked like Luka Doncic would be taking the Dallas Mavericks in the right direction, then when it looked like the trade for Kristaps Porzingis would do the same ... except for what some termed the "baggage'' attached to that Knicks trade. I had other ideas of what Tim Hardaway might be in Dallas.
As I wrote it then:
When people refer to something being "icing on the cake," they're talking about something big that has already being accomplished (the cake being made), and yet there's still more that comes along with it to make it even better (the icing being applied to complete it).
Ever since the Dallas Mavericks executed a blockbuster trade with the New York Knicks last week, KP has received most of the headlines, and for good reason. However, I believe one of the "other guys" the Mavs traded for should be getting a little more spotlight than he has thus far, and guy is Tim Hardaway Jr. If you didn't know already, Hardaway Jr. is big, athletic shooting guard that was averaging 19 points, three rebounds and three assists per game for the Knicks this season before being traded to the Mavs.
“I’m happy to be here,'' Tim said as he sat at the AAC podium on Monday alongside his fellow newcomers. "It’s a new challenge for me, a new opportunity for myself and these guys as well, and we’re ready to take advantage of it."
Although Hardaway Jr. is a decent three-point shooter, shooting 35 percent from deep this season and for his career, his overall field-goal percentage is lacking, as it is only 39 percent. However, if you look back at Hardaway Jr.'s two year stint with the Atlanta Hawks, he shot a little over 44 percent from the field. ... With the Knicks, Hardaway Jr. was asked to do too much, too often, which resulted in those percentages dropping, but in Dallas, expect those numbers to rise as he becomes acquainted with Luka, who instantly becomes the best passer he's ever played alongside.
Hardaway Jr. had the ball in his hands far too often in New York, and now that won't be a problem in Dallas. With Doncic leading the charge, all Hardaway Jr. will mainly need to focus on now is getting open for Doncic to find him, whether that be for open threes or cuts to the basket. On wide-open three-point shots this season, Hardaway Jr. is shooting a little over 39 percent, over five percent higher than his career average. You'd have to imagine that Hardaway Jr. is going to get more open looks from deep than he's ever gotten in his career to this point by playing with Doncic. Rotation-wise, I believe Hardaway Jr. is going to end up being the Mavs' much younger (he is only 26 years old), more athletic version of what Wes Matthews should've been (minus the skills on the defensive side).
Continuing on with the Matthews comparisons, Hardaway Jr.'s contract is nearly identical to what Matthews' was. Hardaway Jr. is making $17.3 million this season, $18.3 million in 2019-2020, and $18.9 million in 2020-2021 (player option). Again, the biggest difference in my mind is age. Matthews contract is expiring this season, and he is 32 years old. Hardaway Jr. will be 29 years old when his current contract expires, plus he's shown that he's capable of putting up points in bunches more consistently than Matthews did in Dallas.
And now here we are. Another NBA trade deadline approaches, but along with that an even more successful Luka-led season that most dreamed of marches on, too - with Hardaway very much a part of it. He's locked into a starting lineup that still pines for KP's good health; Porzingis has missed 10 straight games going into tonight's visit from the powerful Clippers.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers thinks "you don't stop Luka'' and he thinks Porzingis will play. (DallasBasketball.com will be at the AAC tonight and Fish and company will keep you posted.)
But regarding KP: Hardaway is helping make up for any absence from his Knick-turned-Mav teammates by averaging 14.4 points overall ... and in the 26 games that Hardaway has started this season, he's averaging 16.5 points on 46.9-percent shooting, making the Luka/THJ combo among the handful of best-scoring backcourts in the NBA.
The Clippers give Dallas fits because of their talent and physicality on the wings (though Paul George is out tonight). Luka will have to answer to that, and so will Tim. More of their good play together against the Clippers? Well, it means more icing on that Mavs cake from Hardaway.