Tim Hardaway Jr. to D-League, Budenholzer remains optimistic


Tim Hardaway Jr. will make his second stint in the D-League with likely the Austin Spurs. Head coach Mike Budenholzer does remain upbeat about Hardaway.

Tim Hardaway Jr. has had a forgettable stint with the Atlanta Hawks since coming over in a 2015 NBA Draft Day trade from the New York Knicks. Hardaway has played in 44 minutes in four games for the Atlanta Hawk in their first 32 games. He will make his second stint in the NBA’s D-League this week as he will go to the San Antonio Spurs’ affiliate in Austin.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer has drawn a great amount of criticism over his last two NBA Draft decisions in the first round. Budenholzer traded 2014’s first round pick Adreian Payne to the Minnesota Timberwolves during his rookie year. After acquiring the 15th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Budenholzer traded away the rights to Kansas forward Kelly Oubre for the draft rights to Jerian Grant, who Budenholzer traded straight up for Tim Hardaway Jr.

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Hardaway is having a miserable time trying to break into one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference’s rotation. He is .231 from the field and .250 from three-point land. Hardaway has a 3.5 PER, an ORTG of 80 and a DRTG of 110, all of which are bad advanced metrics despite almost no playing time.

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Budenholzer does remain optimistic about Tim Hardaway Jr. He told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday, “I can promise you he is doing well and he is in a good place. A lot of it has been his approach to it. He’s been very professional. There is a real emphasis on player development with us and we’ve seen guys who have come in and maybe not started out gangbusters but through work, time, and effort they find a way. I will say that he is following that path in a very good way.”

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s former coach in New York Derek Fisher offered his own opinion on Hardaway’s new situation in Atlanta. Fisher said, “He joined a team that already had an identity and has a lot of returning guys. It’s difficult to break through in those situations. I think he belongs here in the league and when he gets his opportunity hopefully he’ll make the most of it.”

What I extract from those two quotes on Tim Hardaway Jr. is that New York was not an ideal situation for him to stick in the league long-term and that if he was playing on a non-contending team he might have had more opportunities this year.

Budenholzer seems to look at Hardaway’s development in the macro situation, hoping that he can have staying power in the league by becoming a respectable defender and at least an average jump shooter. Fisher seems to wish that Hardaway had more playing time than Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks are allocating his way.

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Perhaps this most recent stint in the D-League jump starts Hardaway’s development in his third year in the NBA, his first in Atlanta. Should Hardaway continue to not crack the Atlanta rotation Budenholzer and general manager Wes Wilcox could look to trade him. However, with his inability to make a contending team’s rotation in year three, there likely isn’t much to get in return of a Tim Hardaway Jr. trade. For now, he’ll lace up for the Spurs affiliate in the D-League.