The last time fans at Madison Square Garden saw Tim Hardaway Jr. in a Knicks uniform, he was making $16 million less a year than what the Knicks will be paying him this year.
Hardaway, whom the Knicks traded to Atlanta two years ago, had a career season with the Hawks last year. Still, there were more than a few gasps when the Knicks decided to sign him to a four-year, $71-million contract this summer.
After an open practice at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Hardaway made it clear he is tired of people complaining about his contract.
“I really could [not] care less,” Hardaway said. “At this point, I could [not] care less. People need to move on, move forward with that. That’s in the past right now. We’ve got to get ready for the season. And if they’re still harping on that, then their mind is somewhere else.
“I’m focused on my team. I’m here to win. And I know that my teammates and the coaching staff, everybody that’s in the front office has that faith and trust in me that I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to help the team win.”
The Knicks certainly believe he will do that, otherwise they wouldn’t have signed him to an offer sheet that Atlanta did not match. Playing for a team that easily made the playoffs, Hardaway had his best year as a pro last season, posting career highs in points (14.5), rebounds (2.8), assists (2.3) and steals (0.7).
Hardaway certainly has some high goals for this season. Though the Knicks just traded Carmelo Anthony, their best scorer, and haven’t been to the postseason in four years, he believes they can get to the postseason.
“I don’t have any expectations. My expectations for this team is to go the playoffs and nothing more,” Hardaway said. “It starts with practice tomorrow.”
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who saw little of Hardaway in his first go-round with the Knicks, said he tries not to pay too much attention to what others say before he starts coaching a player.
“When you see a guy day in and day out, you try not to listen to what anyone else says,” Hornacek said. “You don’t want to go in with a preconceived idea about how a player plays. That’s why when you get him in practice every day, you start watching the things he does, and I’ve been really impressed. He does the right things; he’s helping out defensively; he’s talking. Of course he can shoot the ball [and] moves without the ball, which helps not only him get open in the offense but it opens up other guys.”
Notes & quotes: During the Knicks’ open practice, new general manager Scott Perry said that he isn’t comfortable with the Knicks now being referred to as Kristaps Porzingis’ team: “I never want to put that much pressure on one individual . . . He knows that he needs every one of his teammates to help this team be successful.”