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Tim Hardaway Jr. on $71 million Knicks contract: ‘It’s not my fault. They came to me’

New York Knicks Media Day

WHITE PLAINS, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Tim Hardaway Jr. #3 of the New York Knicks is photographed at New York Knicks Media Day on September 25, 2017 in Greenburgh, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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Tim Hardaway Jr. is having the best season of his career, and it’s still unclear he’s worth the four-year, $71 million contract that shocked everyone – including Hardaway.

Maybe he’ll continue his ascension and justify the Knicks faith in him over the next three-plus seasons. Or maybe he’ll regress to his career norms and become a burden on New York’s salary cap.

Hardaway has certainly heard plenty about the latter possibility.

Hardaway, via Peter Walsh of Slam:

“I have to use [criticism] as motivation,” he says. “I take it as those are your fans and they’re coming at you with that. It hurts. But at the same time, you can’t harp on that. You have to go out there and show that you deserve what the Knicks offered. At the end of the day, it’s not my fault. They came to me. I knew that if it was something big, I would have to deliver. I’ve been delivering since last season in Atlanta. I feel like I’m confident and capable of getting what I got money-wise and going out there and playing for the team and playing for the franchise and playing for the city.”

Hardaway is right. He didn’t force the Knicks to offer him so much money. Of course, he should have taken it.

But fans will – unfairly – blame the overpaid player. Hardaway will have to deal with that.

All Hardaway can do is play well enough to avoid the discussion altogether, which he’s mostly doing so far.