New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee are the new J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert
The 2017 NBA season will look like a deja vu of sorts for the New York Knicks. With the signing of former Knicks/Atlanta Hawks SG–Tim Hardaway Jr, the Knicks bring back a player they once let go. Hardaway should move into the starting SG slot ahead of Courtney Lee, forcing Lee into a backup role. Why does this sound familiar for Knicks fans? Hardaway and Lee are the new versions of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
You remember that tandem right? Smith was the shooter and Shumpert the defensive ace who provided little offense from the perimeter.
Lee has taken over the role of Shumpert. When Lee signed with the Knicks in 2016 it was seen as a smart decision. Lee came to the Knicks from the Charlotte Hornets after averaging just nine points on 45 percent shooting in 30 minutes per. Lee signed a 4/$48M deal which brought the Knicks 11 points on 36 percent shooting in 32 minutes. Needless to say– a move had to be made.
But the question is– was Hardaway Jr. the right move?
Bringing Hardaway back is the same as never letting go of Smith. Both players are streaky shooters but when they’re hot– they’re on fire. Last season for the Hawks, Hardaway averaged 15 points on 46 percent shooting while hitting on 36 percent from beyond the three-point line. Yes, these are Smith numbers indeed. But the Knicks are in need of something more. James Dolan is hoping that Hardaway can form a great inside/outside combo with Kristaps Porzingis as Carmelo Anthony may soon be shipped to either Cleveland or Houston.
What’s left to be answered is how will Lee adjust to a lesser role? For the last 5 seasons, Lee has played in the ballpark of 30 minutes per. With Hardaway onboard and Lee not known as a terrific ballhandler, he may see his minutes drop around the 25 mark. This is the exact same role in which Shumpert played for the Knicks. However, Lee has a price tag of $12M and egos may get in the way of the team’s success. With the Knicks looking to go with a rookie PG plus the addition of Ramon Sessions, where does that place Lee?
The Knicks were extremely quiet this offseason in terms of Free Agents and Hardaway was their big slash. It wasn’t so much the money or the fact that he returned to the team who drafted him but more along the lines of deja vu for various reasons. Smith and Shumpert left New York and managed to win a championship. Smith and Shumpert were beloved in New York minus J.R.’s childish ways at times. But they both put it all on the line with their heroic shots and Knicks fans are hoping Timmy/Courtney can do the same.