GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Knicks were hoping to find someone in the draft who could help them win now, and they went with the son of a player they loved beating years ago.
The Knicks took versatile 6-6 guard Tim Hardaway Jr. with the No. 24 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft. Hardaway is a good shooter and defensive player who helped Michigan reach the NCAA title game in April. He could be insurance if J.R. Smith leaves in free agency.
"We think we added a good piece to our team," general manager Glen Grunwald said. "He's a talented young player that can shoot the ball well, is a good athlete and is a really good worker, comes from a great program and has had a lot of success over his career.''
Hardaway, 21, averaged 14.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in his junior season at Michigan. He's a mature young man who understands what it takes to play on this level, having followed the career of his father, former Warriors and Heat guard Tim Hardaway.
The Knicks need someone who can contribute right away. They found that in Iman Shumpert two years ago and believe Hardaway can have a similar impact.
"We looked at getting the best player available," Grunwald said. "Secondly, someone who could contribute right away, and the third criteria was filling a need on our team. You could say we have needs across the board in terms of positions, but it's also true we only have two players under contract at the guard position. It's definitely a need, but I think the primary reason we drafted him is we felt he's the best player available.''
The Knicks are coming off a 54-win season but lost in the second round of the playoffs. To go further next season, Grunwald will have to be creative in free agency.
Only seven Knicks are under contract for next season. Jason Kidd retired, and they have three key free agents in Smith, guard Pablo Prigioni and forward Chris Copeland, both of whom are restricted.
The Knicks could have gone with a point guard or big man Thursday night. Among the players available when they picked were North Carolina swingman Reggie Bullock, Glen Rice Jr. (who played in the NBA D-League this past season), San Diego State wing Jamaal Franklin, Murray State point guard Isaiah Canaan and North Texas forward Tony Mitchell.
It appeared some point guards in whom the Knicks had an interest -- such as Dennis Schroeder and Shane Larkin -- might fall to them, but they went 17th and 18th, respectively. The Knicks also had an interest in Louisville center Gorgui Dieng, but he went 21st to Minnesota.