Unlike last summer, when teams were handing out big-money contracts left and right, this year's free agency period has been more restrained. This due in part to the salary cap coming in at $99 million, which is lower than what teams were expecting.
Apparently, the New York Knicks did not get the memo, however, as they burst onto the free agency scene Thursday night with a massive four-year, $71M offer sheet for Atlanta Hawks' restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hawks will not be matching that deal, freeing Hardaway Jr. to return to the Knicks, where he played his first two NBA seasons.
Atlanta will not match New York's $71M offer sheet to Tim Hardaway Jr., but official notification still hours away, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2017
Hardaway Jr. averaged 14.5 points last season with the Hawks, turning himself into a very solid scoring option off the bench. However, the money the Knicks offered him was far more than anyone was expecting.
The deal stunned agents, with one of them calling the Knicks "nuts" for making that offer. Via Bleacher Report:
"No I can't," said an agent when asked by Bleacher Report if he could believe the numbers on the Hardaway deal. "But then again, it's the Knicks."
"They're nuts," wrote another agent. "Their two moves are re-signing Ron Baker and crazy overpay here."
As one Eastern Conference front office staffer texted: "LOL."
According to ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz, the Hawks were planning to offer Hardaway a deal worth around $45 million.
Hawks were thinking something in the neighborhood of $45M for Hardaway. This latest act of Knickery should make the call easier.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) July 7, 2017
With the Knicks offering more than $25M over the amount the Hawks were planning to spend, it's pretty easy to see why Atlanta decided not to match this deal.