<
>

Hardaway: 'Can't complain' about minutes

NEW YORK -- Many New York Knicks have played big roles in their team's 2-2 start. Tim Hardaway Jr., surprisingly, hasn't been one of them.

The second-year shooting guard is averaging just 11 minutes per game -- 12 fewer than his average the past season.

Before Tuesday's game, Derek Fisher explained his usage of Hardaway and said it was based in part on matchups.

"I think Tim is still evolving as a player. He's doing some really great things for us, so it's not so much having a hard time getting him minutes," Fisher said. "It's just the way it's been these last couple of nights. Like we talked about before, we have 15 guys that can play every night. Every guy won't get a chance to play as much as he would like.

"What I love about what Tim has done [is] he's continued to be a pro, worked hard every day and played four minutes in Cleveland, but he didn't allow that to impact his approach against the Charlotte Hornets ... Tim's fine. It has nothing to do with what he isn't doing. More so, it's just continuing to build our team."

Entering the season, Hardaway was battling Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith for minutes at shooting guard. Shumpert has started the first four games and averaged 25 minutes. Smith has averaged 24.5 minutes per game thus far.

The Knicks appear to view Hardaway as a part of their future. They picked up his third-year option last month and repeatedly refused to trade him last season. His sparse minutes so far this season might be due to his struggles on defense and in rebounding.

For what it's worth, the 2013 first-round draft pick has taken his limited role in stride.

"After last year, it's kind of tough, but at the same time, you can't harp on it," he said before tipoff on Tuesday. "You've got to mature, and you've got to understand what comes into play and where he's coming from. Everything he's doing right now is working for us. So you can't complain. You've just got to go out there, and when your jersey, your name is called, you've just got to go out there and compete."

Hardaway hasn't had any one-on-one conversations with Fisher about his usage.

"It's just the decisions he's making," Hardaway said. "He just tells everybody, whenever they're ready, when they're called off the bench just go out and perform ... You don't know what can happen, injuries, whatever the case might be. So just be prepared and ready."

Question: Why do you think Fisher hasn't played Hardaway big minutes this season? Should Hardaway be playing more?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.