In addition to playing for pride and for his teammates, Hardaway Jr. would also like to finish an up-and-down season in positive fashion.
The 2013 first-round pick said on Saturday his performance has fallen short of personal expectations this year.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. It wasn’t the year I wanted to have. I know that, and I know the guys on my team know that, as well,” Hardaway Jr. said after practice on Saturday.
Hardaway Jr. is averaging 11.1 points on 38 percent shooting while playing 23 minutes per game this season. Last year, he averaged 10.8 points but made 43 percent of his attempts in a promising rookie campaign.
Derek Fisher said on Saturday that he'd like to see Hardaway Jr. continue to improve in areas of the game that don’t include shooting.
“People know that you can make shots from night to night when the ball’s going in, but the other parts of your game you’re going to have to continue to mature and develop,” Fisher said. “So even with the wrist possibly still bothering him a little bit, the defense, the hustle, the rebounding as a big guard, making good decisions, those are all things that he can still do. So he should focus on those things.”
Fisher added: “I think Tim is just continuing to evolve as a young man and, I think, continuing to break away from the idea that shot-making is the thing he can do to help his team. I think Tim is much more versatile. I think his ballhandling is improving. I think his size gives him the chance to guard multiple players on the defensive end. Those are things that he can do every night. And I think he’s making a more concerted effort to do those this year and accepted that challenge. I think he’ll get better as time goes on.”
Hardaway Jr. is one of five Knicks who have at least some guaranteed money in their contracts next season. As a young player on his rookie contract, Hardaway Jr. is one of the few valuable trade chips on the Knicks roster, leading to speculation (unfounded to date) that New York could have interest in trading him.
The former Michigan standout says he's not concerned about what may come in the future. He’s instead focused on finishing the season well and gearing up for the summer.
“I’m going to watch a lot of film this summer and just see what I can do,” he said. “Hopefully, when I’m back, see what I can do next season to help this team on the offensive end and on the defensive end.”