DALLAS — Thursday’s trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks launched Tim Hardaway Jr. up in the standings — no longer part of the NBA’s worst team.
But Hardaway still didn’t seem like the happiest guy on the dais during Monday’s press conference at American Airlines Center.
Hardaway has been traded twice by the Knicks — first by Phil Jackson and Steve Mills and then by Mills and general manager Scott Perry.
Hardaway, the Knicks’ leading scorer who had slumped in the past two months, was traded largely to make room for two max contract slots. The Knicks will pursue a Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving tandem as their sky-high free-agency goal this summer.
In Mills’ first big act after replacing Jackson, he brought back their former first-round pick on a four-year, $70 million contract in July 2017. He was averaging 19.1 points on 38.8 percent shooting.
“I didn’t leave New York,’’ Hardaway said, clarifying a question. “At the end of the day, it’s a business and what’s done is done.
“I’m happy to be here with our guys. It’s a new challenge and new opportunity for myself and we’re ready to take advantage of it.’’
More than any Knick, Hardaway seemed to take the losing hardest. The Knicks are 10-42. The Mavericks sit at 24-28 — in 12th place in the West.
“We understood,’’ Hardaway said. “In New York, coach Fiz [David Fizdale] was building a foundation for the team. But he wanted us to be competitive and win ballgames, if possible. As veterans, we were doing a great job of that, playing hard, teaching the young guys. The losing didn’t weigh on us. It made us strong-minded and persevere more.’’
While most queries were lobbed at Porzingis, Hardaway sat next to his Michigan buddy Trey Burke and veteran Courtney Lee, who will be kept by the Mavs.
“All four guys are going to be significant contributors,’’ Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.
This post was originally posted at https://nypost.com/2019/02/05/tim-hardaway-jr-it-wasnt-my-decision-to-leave-knicks/. WGEH does not own this content and is not responsible for it.