DALLAS - Tim Hardaway Jr., who was formally characterized by some as being the "ballast'' from the Kristaps Porzingis trade, hasn’t just been "good" for the Dallas Mavericks. He’s been "elite," at least in terms of his three-point shooting and his fantastic leadership in the locker room.
And now that Hardaway has helped Dallas to a 2-0 start against the Clippers in Round 1 of the NBA playoffs, it makes sense to reiterate our DallasBasketball.com scoop (via Dalton Trigg) regarding what we’ve called the “mutual interest” between Hardaway and the Mavs in a continuing contractual future together.
“I would be lying if (I said) I thought he would be this good,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban told DallasBasketball.com, then indicating to us a mutual interest in a long-term contract being forged this summer.
After the trade from New York, we wrote about how Hardaway Jr.’s shooting percentages would more than likely rise with the Mavs, given that Luka Doncic was, by far, the best point guard he would have played with in his career so far. It was also noted that Hardaway Jr. would be getting a lot more open threes than what he was accustomed to and that he wouldn’t have to isolate as much, either.
Sure enough, playing with Doncic and being coached by Rick Carlisle has made a huge difference. He just simply had to tweak the way he was playing the game.
Hardaway Jr.’s numbers, combined with the fact that he’s been a “heart and soul” of this Mavs’ team with his infectious passion and energy, led us to chase the extension idea now being confirmed by our friend Marc Stein.
“THJ has turned into an elite shooter. He makes us so much better,” said Cuban when asked about the possibility of a Hardaway Jr. extension this summer. “Obviously we can see him being around for a long time, and I know he wants to stay.”
Hardaway Jr. started his Mavs tenure being viewed as a salary-cap burden, but he has more than lived up to his $18 million per year contract. Now, not only do the Mavs have an elite shooter to pair with Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but they could also have themselves another key piece to a potential championship roster one day, a glue guy, an “our kind of guy,” as general manager Donnie Nelson would put it.
Obviously, the next step will be the Mavs and Hardaway Jr. hashing out the numbers after this postseason is over, but for now, it’s looking like Hardaway Jr. could be sticking around Dallas for a long time — something that would be mutually beneficial for both sides going forward.