Despite a losing skid, there were a couple of notable things to come out of New York in the past week.
New Year welcomes back a familiar face
Knicks finally received great news regarding the health of shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. who hadn’t played in a game since November 29 — missing over a month of action due to a stress injury in his left leg.
However, this changed on Friday, Jan. 12, when he returned against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Hardaway scored 16 points off the bench in 25 minutes, on 46 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three. Sunday, Jan. 14, afternoon he came off the bench again scoring 25 points in 33 minutes in an overtime nail-biter against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek decided not to play Hardaway, on Monday, in their Martin Luther King Jr. Day matchup against Brooklyn after playing those 33 minutes the day before according to ESPN’s Ian Begley who covers the Knicks:
Jeff Hornacek added that Tim Hardaway Jr. is feeling fine physically after playing 33 minutes against New Orleans. The coach said NYK doesn't want to overload him with minutes too quickly since he's coming off of an injury. https://t.co/XCFl22GmSG— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 15, 2018
Easing Hardaway back into the fold will take time, but New York is happy to welcome back its second leading scorer and hopefully fans can witness a “Timmy Shimmy” soon.
Dennis Smith Jr. dishes on the Phil Jackson regime
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson indulged in his penchant for Euros in the 2017 draft, selecting Frank Ntilikina over Dennis Smith. Well Smith sounds very happy the Knicks didn’t select him as he dishes on the chaos surrounding the Knicks’ pre-draft process with Sham Charania. Apparently the Knicks had invited Smith for a workout, then when Smith arrived in New York asked for a physical, which Smith’s camp had already stated was off the table. The Knicks and Smith’s camp agreed to scrap the workout, only for the Knicks to turn around the day before the draft and ask Smith for a last-minute workout.
“The Knicks were forcing me to do a couple things that were already established that I wasn’t going to do,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “I was uncomfortable with them. I felt comfortable here in Dallas. They did a good job making me feel like I was already a player here. People think that I just dipped out of the Knicks workout because I didn’t want the Knicks to take me, but no.
“It wasn’t over that…but they kept insisting on the physical. I knew it would be a no go.”
If you believe Smith’s account, then the Knicks were in a state of confusion leading up to the draft. Fortunately it doesn’t matter anymore, as Jackson is now chilling in Montana.
Bye Sessions, Hello Burke: A veteran point guard for a young talent
The Knicks waived Ramon Sessions and signed Trey Burke, who has been playing for the G-League Westchester Knicks this season.
Sessions played in 13 games averaging 3.7 points and 2.1 assists. He began the season as the starting point guard but eventually fell out of the rotation, seeing little to no playing time, with Jarret Jack taking over the starting role and lottery pick Frank Ntilikina holding down the second unit.
The 6-foot-1 guard has played for the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards in his young NBA career, holding career averages of 10.6 points and 3.6 assists. This season Burke has averaged over 26.6 ppg for the Westchester Knicks and was named December’s G League Player of the Month.
Burke did not play on Sunday against the Pelicans, but made his official Knicks debut on MLK day against the Brooklyn Nets. Burke came off the bench and scored five points in eight minutes.
A crowded backcourt in New York may limit his role, but we’ll have to wait and see.