Amid media requests for interviews and kids' requests for him to perform video game-type dunks yesterday, Tim Hardaway Jr. fielded perhaps the sharpest question from a young boy in the crowd:
What if Carmelo Anthony had chosen to not re-sign with the Knicks?
"Thank the Lord he decided to come back," replied Hardaway Jr., who hosted a basketball clinic for youngsters at the Coleman Country Day Camp in Freeport. "If he had left, I thought he would've gone to Chicago, and that had me worried for a little while. That would've been rough."
That, most likely, would have sent the Knicks into a complete rebuilding mode. The Bulls were a major suitor -- and the Knicks' biggest threat to lure away the All-Star -- but Anthony eventually signed a five-year, $124-million contract to remain in New York.
"I'm just really glad he's back," Hardaway Jr. said, "and I'm happy the offseason is almost over."
Hardaway Jr., 22, is among the players being counted on to deliver more -- following a solid rookie season in which he averaged 10.2 points off the bench -- and said he would "love" to have an expanded role. The shooting guard recently was named to USA Basketball's select team that will train with the national team in Las Vegas later this month, an honor he described as "a huge, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
He proved adept at driving to the basket and hitting spot-up threes during his rookie year.
"Since the season ended, I haven't vacationed or gone anywhere except to Vegas for summer league," Hardaway Jr. said. Instead, he said, he has spent the free time working "on all aspects of my game, everything. I can't be one-dimensional."
It has been an eventful offseason for the Knicks, albeit without a blockbuster acquisition. Phil Jackson's trade of Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Samuel Dalembert, by and large, received positive reviews. As did the drafting of forward Cleanthony Early in the second round. "That's what [Jackson] is here for," Hardaway Jr. said, "to make those tough decisions and moves to improve the team."
Hardaway Jr. also was impressed by new coach Derek Fisher, whom he played for earlier this month in the summer league.
"D-Fish is going to be a good coach," Hardaway Jr. said. "I think he's a players' coach and he's been through it all in this league. He's got the rings, so he knows what it takes to win and we all believe in him. We just have to deliver."
Shannon Brown waived. Shannon Brown's familiarity with the triangle offense wasn't enough to secure him a guaranteed roster spot on the Knicks. The team announced Wednesday it waived the 6-4 swingman, one of the few players on the Knicks well-versed in their new offense. Brown, whose second year of his contract reportedly would have been guaranteed if he wasn't waived by the end of July, appeared in 19 games for the Knicks in 2013-14, averaging 2.1 points in 7.8 minutes.