Why Tim Hardaway Jr. will stay with the Dallas Mavericks

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Amidst the indefinite pause to the season, Tim Hardaway Jr. has a decision to make, stay with the Dallas Mavericks or test free agency. Here’s why he stays…

It seemed like a foregone conclusion one year ago today that Him Hardaway Jr would opt into the final year of his deal (for the 2020-21 season). After all, Tim Hardaway was included in the Kristaps Porzingis trade because New York wanted to be rid of his contract, not because he was a prize. The Dallas Mavericks simply saw it as the cost of doing business.

But the 2019-20 NBA season went off and surprised us. Sadly, in more ways than one (i.e. indefinite pause to the season). But one surprise was a pleasant one: Tim Hardaway Jr.’s emergence. Hardaway’s 15.8 point per game came through improved efficiency and came with strong perimeter defense.

No longer a volume shooter, THJ improved his field goal percentage to .437 (his best since the 2016-17 season). From three-point land THJ improved to over 40 percent (that’s the best in his career). For the first time since the 2016-17 season he’s a net positive in offensive rating over defensive rating.

Hardaway has become a valuable member of the team and we can probably thank Rick Carlisle for moving Hardaway to the starting lineup to make it all happen.

THJ wasn’t always a valuable player with the Dallas Mavericks. He was initially tagged as a 6th man. That way he wouldn’t steal opportunities from Doncic and could shoot more freely. But when Carlisle started including him in the starting lineup, Hardaway adjusted his game (he’s started 50 of 63 games this season).

Suddenly THJ started playing more efficiently and took full advantage of the favorable match-ups that came with playing alongside KP and Luka. His length just added to his value on the defensive end of the court.

The Mavs, never seen as a very good defensive team, needed a player to play alongside Luka who could pick up the defensive slack. That’s why fellow wing, Dorian Finney-Smith has been such an important part of the team: his length on defense. Timmy tunred himself into another important piece to play with, and his increased proficiency from deep made him a viable 3-and-D option.

Long story short, Hardaway remade his game and didn’t just live up to his contract, but he started to play above it. Suddenly the idea of him exercising his option was no longer a foregone conclusion and the guy who was once a throw-in, may be opting out and looking for a new multi-year deal in free agency.

But then COVID-19 happened and the future became a big known for everyone. This is not the year a player wants to be hitting the market. This is when players value stability and that is why Tim Hardaway Jr may opt into the final year rather than risk the unknown on the open market.

Sport DFW is looks for Mavs fans who want their voice heard. Apply now and start writing about your favorite NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks!

Related Story. The Mavs would thrive in an NCAA-style tournament. light

If for no other reason, there’s a good chance Tim Hardway Jr opts into the final year of deal because it offers more security at a very insecure time.

  • Published on 04/30/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 04/30/2020 at 11:18 AM