It has been almost two weeks since the NBA Draft, when the New York Knicks chose Tim Hardaway Jr. as their first round draft pick, as well as the moment the former Michigan shooting guard held his own No. 5 Knicks jersey for the first time.
Monday, the club officially signed its newest rookies, including undrafted free agent forward C.J. Leslie to its roster, making these the first signings of the offseason.
According to Newsday, Hardaway Jr. signed a four-year, $6.03 million deal. The first two years for $2.44 million are guaranteed for the No. 24 pick in the draft. The last two years are team options, per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement.
As for Leslie, who played as a forward at N.C. State, the Knicks agreed to sign him to a one year contract, which is partially guaranteed. For a chance to officially make the team, the forward may be required to attend training camp.
Coach Mark Gotfried of the N.C. State men’s basketball team believes the Knicks will be a good fit for Leslie.
“I think New York is going to find, once they get him with their summer league team, they’re going to find he’s a terrific young person,” Gotfried said last week. “I think he’s going to make their roster, and I actually think he’ll play for them this year.”
The Knicks will open their summer league this Friday and expect both Leslie and Hardaway Jr. to play in the league, with practice beginning next Tuesday night in Las Vegas. Their first game will be on July 12th vs. New Orleans.
Leslie, who declared for the draft after his junior year but wasn’t chosen, averaged 13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 99 career games. As a junior, he averaged 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 35 games.
Hardaway Jr., on the other hand, averaged 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists while at Michigan.
Players who are also expected to be a part of the Knicks’ summer league include: forward Terrance Jennings, guard Toure Murry, forward Eloy Vargas, guard J’ Covan Brown, and forward Tony Mitchell.
With only about $1.7 million left in mini mid level exceptions for free agents, the team still has a few unfilled spots on their team roster, including open positions for a point guard, small forward/wing man, and one big man.
As of now, The Knicks are focusing on a small group of players that they are considering to join the team, such as Sebastion Telfair, Aaron Brooks, Beno Udrih, Dahntay Jones and Elton Brand.
In other Knicks highlights, Rasheed Wallace is now a Detroit Pistons assistant coach. The former Knicks player retired from the team after playing only one season due to a foot injury. He made the decision based family matters and turned down an offer to work with Knicks Coach Mike Woodson.
“To me, what signed, sealed and delivered it, made it more sweet, was the fact that my kids are still in Detroit,” Wallace told reporters on Monday. “And being a professional ball player, you’re on the road a lot, you’re missing a whole lot with your kids. The plays, the games. So now I have an opportunity to see some of that. I didn’t get a chance to do that the last few years.”
He will now be working for the Detroit Pistons’ new head coach Maurice Cheeks, a player who Wallace has looked up to while growing up.