Tim Hardaway Sr. anticipates that the Mavericks' loss in Game 5 to the Boston Celtics could have been Tim Hardaway Jr.'s last game in Dallas.

On Wednesday, Hardaway Sr. took to Instagram to congratulate his son on his season. In response to a comment suggesting that the Mavericks might trade him in the offseason, Hardaway Sr. confirmed the possibility, expressing a desire for a fresh opportunity to showcase their talents.

“Yes they are. And we want to have a new opportunity to shine. We didn't like what [happened]. We are ready to go,” he said in a now deleted comment.

Heading into the final year of the four-year deal he inked with the Mavericks in 2021, Hardaway Jr. is poised to play on an expiring contract worth $16.2 million in the upcoming season leading to his unrestricted free agent status in 2025. His expensive contract stands out even though he didn't play a significant role in crucial moments for the team.

However, he's earning less than the $17.9 million he made last season, which is attributed to the frontloaded contract he inked with the Mavericks when he became a regular starter toward the end of the 2020-21 season.

Tim Hardaway Jr.'s diminishing role with the Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) talks with head coach Jason Kidd in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves during game one of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Since then, though, Hardaway has seen his playing time diminish as a bench player.

Ever since arriving in Dallas as part of the trade for Kristaps Porzingis in 2019, Hardaway Jr. has been a Maverick for six years. Throughout his tenure with the team, he has maintained a serviceable average of more than 15 points per game. However, his shooting efficiency suffers due to his frequent attempts from beyond the arc.

Marc Stein suggests that the trade dynamics could change this summer with only one year remaining on Hardaway's contract.

The method by which the Mavericks might shed Hardaway's hefty salary remains uncertain. Whether they'll need to execute a salary dump akin to what they did with Davis Bertans last offseason, or if they can secure a tangible asset in return for him, will be one of the more interesting narratives for Dallas during this offseason.

The better option in Derrick Jones Jr.

Trying to offload Hardaway implies that the Mavericks will probably aim to re-sign Derrick Jones Jr., who assumed the role of Dallas' starting small forward after signing a one-year, $2.7 million veteran minimum contract.

Jones Jr. achieved career highs in minutes and scoring while serving as a regular starting wing for the Mavericks. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 23.5 minutes per game shootimg 48.3% from the field, 34.3% from three-point range, and 71.3% from the free-throw line.

Derrick Jones Jr.’s consistency as a starter throughout all 22 postseason games starkly contrasts with Hardaway's sporadic role in Dallas' rotation during the playoffs. This suggests that the Mavericks consider Jones a crucial component in their strategy to retain their current core for the upcoming season.

Tim Hardaway Sr. being vocal about his son's situation

Hardaway Sr., a Hall-of-Famer and former 5-time All-Star, has been outspoken this season about his dissatisfaction with the Mavericks' handling of his son, who ranked third in team scoring during the regular season but was largely ineffective for most of the playoffs.

He voiced various complaints about the team, including a lack of off-ball movement on offense and issues with ball-sharing between Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

It must be challenging for Hardaway Jr. to perform effectively when his father is criticizing his teammates, and now with his father indicating that the Mavericks plan to trade him in the offseason, it adds to the uncertainty.

During the playoffs, it seemed evident that Hardaway Jr.'s tenure in Dallas might be ending, and his father's public comments only reinforced that narrative.