Source: Tim Hardaway Jr. is exercising his $19 million player option. He will return to the Mavs after thriving in a starting role last season.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 19, 2020
Hardaway’s decision always seemed likely, with an uncertain NBA off-season due to the pandemic potentially messing with how teams wanted to spend their money. Now Hardaway can attempt to replicate his career season and then enter the market when things have hopefully stabilized and he can secure another long-term deal.
While news of this decision 12 months ago would have caused groans from the Mavericks fan base, Hardaway somehow turned himself into an invaluable member of the team. After being inserted into the starting lineup on Nov. 20 of last year, he exploded next to Luka Doncic, setting career highs across the board in regards to his shooting. He shot 39.8 percent from three last season, including 42.1 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, with high volume to boot.
It actually works out well for the Mavericks with Hardaway’s opt-in. While Dallas could have had some major cap space freed up with Hardaway opted-out, trying to either re-sign him to a multi-year deal this off-season or scramble for his replacement would have been difficult, especially in a weak free agent class. Now the Mavericks can get another season of hopefully solid production and then have their options open for the much deeper 2021 free agent class.