The New York Knicks needed both a big man up front and a scoring threat for their backcourt, and they succeeded in addressing one of those needs in Thursday's NBA draft.
They also have a ridiculous payroll for next season, with their Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire making $58 million and Marcus Camby and Steve Novak will be earning $8 million between them.
Their salary-cap troubles mean that the Knicks had to select wisely at No. 24 and get someone who can help out almost immediately.
As reported by ESPN New York's Ian Begley, Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith opted out of his deal, and the Knicks will try to lure him back with the mini mid-level exception. Two mature rookies from last year, Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni, received qualifying offers, but they could still end up elsewhere.
Name: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Pick: No. 24 overall (first round)
Analysis: ESPN cameras showed Knicks superfan Spike Lee looking elated at this selection. Of course, Spike recalls Tim Hardaway Sr. as a Knicks killer not too long ago, so the team will now try to wield the skills of his son to their own advantage.
Hardaway the Younger offers some slick scoring potential and nice size for a 2-guard at 6'6". He averaged 14.5 points per game for Michigan last season, including 37 percent from downtown and a tidy 4.7 boards per game.
Hardaway served as the Wolverines' No. 2 player behind Trey Burke. He flashed some nice potential in their deep run during the NCAA tourney and could fit in well as the sixth man if the Knicks decide they can't afford J.R. Smith.
Hardaway's defense could be a concern, however, especially under coach Mike Woodson. At times last season, occasional defensive lapses kept Chris Copeland off the court as Woodson demands unerring discipline on D from his youngsters.
Still, the Knicks have to feel like they got value with this selection late in the first round, as Hardaway looked NBA-ready during March Madness.
Getting To Know Tim Hardaway Jr.
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