At the trade deadline this past season, there may not have been a better move made than the New York Knicks acquiring Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers. Obviously names like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving being traded dominated headlines in New York, but Hart's arrival to the Knicks really helped this team change for the better.
Needing a spark and a source of energy in their rotations, Hart arrived to the Knicks and instantly became a fan-favorite due to his role as a multi-purpose player. Not to mention, he instantly connected with every member of the locker room, especially his former collegiate teammate in Jalen Brunson.
New York finished the regular season 17-8 in games that Hart played in and they were able to win their first playoff series since 2013 thanks to his contributions as a rebounder, secondary scorer and primary defender on the wing. Heading into the offseason though, the former first-round pick has a near $13 million player option that Hart recently told Taylor Rooks he will be declining.
Josh Hart tells @TaylorRooks he's likely declining his player option to test free agency 👀
He'd love to stay in New York pic.twitter.com/1sAY9kySla
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 5, 2023
“We'll probably decline that and do the free agency thing,” Hart told Rooks. “My first free agency, I was restricted and it was ass. I actually cried a little bit… I love New York, I love the team, I love coaching staff, the front office that we have. We got young guys, draft picks, you know, all those sort of things so I mean obviously that would be an ideal place for me to just re-sign there.”
In 25 regular season games with the Knicks, Hart averaged 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and 51.6 percent from three-point range. Positive energy can be infectious and the way Hart played and presented himself night-in and night-out for New York resonated with his teammates.
As far as returning to the Knicks, the general consensus around the league is that Hart will not be a free agent for long after opting out of his contract and that he will re-sign with New York on a new, long-term deal.
“Everything's perfect on the court, off the court, Hart continued. “With family being close to home, doing all those kinds of things, so yeah fingers crossed when free agency starts, I'll say a deal get done hopefully in the first day or two. I would love for that to be home.”
All indications point towards Hart re-signing with the Knicks and his wish of not wanting to be a free agent too long will likely be fulfilled!