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Steve Mills details reasoning behind Tim Hardaway Jr.’s hefty contract

New York Knicks president Steve Mills faced several questions upon the announcement of his new position within the organization, mainly the huge sum attached to the acquisition of former restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Michigan standout was offered a four-year, $71 million contract, one that the Atlanta Hawks didn’t match after two years of receiving them from the former.

“We decided prior to July 1 that Tim was one of the players that we were targeting,” said Mills, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “Matter of fact, Tim was the first phone call that I made at 12:02 or 12:01. We just felt that, we were familiar with who Tim is as a person and who he is as a player from his time with us.”

Oddly enough, Begley pointed out that Hardaway said he didn’t hear from the Knicks at the beginning of free agency, raising doubts over Mills’ statement.

“We watched him in our opinion grow over his time in the player development program that they had in Atlanta. So we decided he was a target,” Mills continued. “We felt like there are not that many opportunities in free agency that you have the opportunity to go after a 25-year-old. Most times guys become free, as far as an age standpoint, later in their career. And we made the decision that if you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team you have to be aggressive. So we made a decision to be aggressive.”

There was no question that the interest was there, but going as far as $71 million was a choice most saw as irreconcilable, killing any potential flexibility to take on future salaries, especially when the team’s first priority was to shed the contracts of Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah.

Mills proceeded to explain why the lucrative offer was made.

“As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two guard in this league, our trajectory for him is to be a starting two guard,” he said. “(He has) the capability of being a starting two guard for the rest of his career. And those guys average 16, 16.5 million dollars today. So that’s how we came to the decision to go after him and how we came to the decision to be aggressive in making sure that he became a Knick.”

The pressure for Hardaway to perform up to his contract will be immense, but so will be the ire of the Knicks’ faithful if they see yet another wildly overpaid contract in the books — a story that has spun like an eternal LP in the awful song the franchise has become during the past decade.