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Tim Hardaway Jr. exercises $19 million player option to return to Mavs

Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavs

Tim Hardaway Jr. will stay in Dallas with the Mavs.

The Mavericks shooting guard exercised his $19 million player option for the 2020-21 season, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

This always seemed likely even though he did have a strong season for the Mavs. The former Michigan standout would have been hard-pressed to make over $19 million in the open market.

Dallas acquired Hardaway from the New York Knicks in the trade that also netted Kristaps Porzingis. The deal has paid major dividends for the Mavs, especially because of Hardaway’s contributions.

Hardaway emerged as a scoring combo guard in New York, but he also grew more efficient with higher usage. However, the 28-year-old thrived in Dallas, averaging 15.8 points while shooting close to 40 percent from beyond the arc on 7.2 attempts per game.

The Mavs will need Hardaway to continue to shoot the ball efficiently, especially after trading marksman Seth Curry to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Josh Richardson. Dallas also did well to replace Curry with Tyrell Terry in the second round of Wednesday’s NBA draft.

The rest of the offseason will provide plenty of intrigue for Mavs fans. Dallas has shown an interest in trying to acquire a secondary playmaker to complement Luka Doncic while also adding more toughness. A secondary playmaker would suit Hardaway very well considering how he excelled in terms of spot-up threes last season.

Regardless, the Mavs seemed primed to make another leap next year. Doncic has already become one of the best players in the game, and guys like Hardaway have played their roles to perfection.

Dallas could use another defensive stalwart, but Hardaway’s return maintains their outside shooting presence.