George Hill would be a member of the New York Knicks right now if they didn’t can Phil Jackson before the start of free agency.
If your first response is to breathe a sigh of relief that the Knicks didn’t sign a 31-year-old point guard to an expensive contract, think again.
Hill ended up signing a three-year, $57 million deal with the Sacramento Kings, with only $1 million guaranteed in his final season. So, essentially, this can be a two-year, $40 million deal if the incumbent team so pleases.
That’s by far and away better than the four-year, $71 million disaster the Knicks gave Hardaway. Sure, he’s younger. But Hill would have been a good mentor for Ntilikina, as someone who can play both on and off the ball and who defends his ass off. Ntilikina, in many ways, could end up being a higher-end Hill when he reaches his peak.
More than that, the terms of Hill’s deal are just better. He can come off the books in 2019 (or 2020). Hardaway doesn’t wash off the ledger until 2021, up to two years later. And that’s a huge problem knowing the Knicks are paying Enes Kanter through next season and Joakim Noah through 2019-20.
Assuming Kristaps Porzingis gets his super max this summer, the Knicks won’t be enjoying real cap space anytime soon. Just as some of their contracts slink off the books, they’ll start paying KP big money (that he deserves), in addition to whatever’s left on Hardaway’s deal. And while they could wait out all these deals, we know they won’t. Besides, by the time their last non-Porzingis contract comes off the bottom line in 2021 (Hardaway), Ntilikina will be due for a big raise himself. Ergo, assuming Jackson wasn’t about to offer Hill a longer-term deal, he actually might have been on to something.