Tim Hardaway Jr. on the impact of Luka Doncic and European players in the NBA

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks answered media questions ahead of tonight’s NBA London Game 2019 against the Washington Wizards.

Q: Are the team seeing it as a one-off occasion being out here or is this very much part of the league?

TH: “I don’t think it’s a one-off, if it was a one-off then we’d probably just come here once and then it’d be done for the rest of our careers but more importantly we just want to make sure when we come out here, we put on a show. We want to make sure that we’re out here competing, giving the fans what they want and show them how we play basketball back in the States.”

Q: How important is this match going to be in terms of the season?

TH: “It’s very important, we know these guys very well, they know us very well. Just being able to go out there and compete against a team that you know – it’s exciting. Nothing’s going to be easy out there. It’s going to be tough, both teams are going to compete very, very hard against one another. We’re not going to fly if we’re here to just lose by a lot, we want to compete and we want to win so that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Q: Could the timing have been a little bit better, does it interrupt your preparations with getting things back on track?

TH: “I don’t think it interrupts our preparation. You don’t want to look at that as an excuse, both teams flew over here at the same time and they all want to compete and do well and win. Everybody’s going to do all they can to take care of their bodies, get a lot of rest and get a lot of fluids in their system and once tomorrow hits, they’re going to be ready to go.”

Q: Do you want to use this as a turning point to get your season back on track?

TH: “Oh yeah no doubt, we definitely want to use it as a turning point. Coach said if we have to fly all the way over here to get a win to turn our season around then we’re going to do it. That’s in our mind to go out here and compete and give it our best.”

Q: What do you think about the current state of European players in the league? You have them in your own roster and we’ve got some in the MVP race now with Giannis and the likes of Doncic and Jokic – how do you assess it?

TH: “They’re playing unbelievable. It’s all about fundamentals when you’re over here, overseas and they bring it to the NBA game into the States and they show us up. They do a fantastic job over here, preparing their guys to play anywhere in the world and we love it. At the end of the day, it’s a competition so it’s great to just be a part of that and see what they’ve done.”

Q: Are you sad that Enes hasn’t made the trip?

TH: “Yeah I would say that I’m sad. He’s our big man, one of the key components of our team. He made a decision, we’re supporting his decision and we’re going to move forward.”

Q: How much do you talk in the locker-room about the likes of James Harden going off on the MVP race. Do you talk about that amongst yourselves?

TH: “I mean that’s what social media is for. Instagram, Twitter all that stuff. We can talk about it but at the end of the day it’s all about us, we’re going to worry about ourselves and not the other team.”

Q: There’s rumours that Kevin Durant might coming in the summer. Is there any chance of that happening do you think?

TH: “I don’t believe in rumours. Once it happens, then it happens. But for now, we’re just going to worry about our team, worry about the position we’re in right now and focus on that.”

Q: Do you think the Knicks is going to become one of the big destinations? You’re already a huge franchise, even Shaq said this week he thinks if there’s a young superstar he thinks the Knicks will be the number one team to look at. Is that how you see the franchise?

TH: “Everybody knows the city of New York and the team in general is a huge market. If you want to get your name out there and you want to do very well and have passionate fans then you’ll come to New York. Like I said, rumours stay in the present, we’re not going to worry about that right now. All we’re going to worry about is being in London and enjoying ourselves and prepare on trying to get this win tomorrow.”

Q: Do you think Bradley Beal should be an All-Star?

TH: “Yeah I’ve gone up against him ever since my rookie season. He’s a phenomenal basketball player, I don’t want to give him too much credit because that’s my opponent tomorrow. But I have the utmost respect for that guy, he gets the best out of me every single night. I’m looking forward to the match-up tomorrow.”

Q: What’s the game plan to stop him?

TH: “Just to make everything hard for him. He’s one of their best players, if not their best player. He does a great job of distributing the basketball and scoring the basketball, playing defence, rebounding and he’s their leader out there on the floor. I’m just going to do whatever I can to stop him and listen to my guys out there on the floor and do whatever we can to disrupt him and make it tough for him. That’s it.”

Q: What’s the team camaraderie like between you at the moment. Do you play 2K together?

TH: “We have a lot of guys on our team that play 2K. They have a lot of battles. I don’t play video games, not at all. I think I stopped playing video games when I was in college. I used to play FIFA a lot. I used to play Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and Messi and all those guys. But other than that, I don’t even know the teams anymore to be honest with you.”

Q: You’ve got predominantly young guys, are they hungry, driven?

TH: “Yeah a lot of hungry, driven guys. Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson – a lot of those guys they’re hungry and they’re willing to go out there and do whatever they can to help the team and it’s exciting to have guys with that mind-set. Moving forward it builds that team chemistry and it builds that platform of what we want to build here.”

Q: Do you see a really bright future for Frank?

TH: “Yeah it’s a mind set with Frank [Ntilikina]. At the end of the day, he controls his own destiny. We’re already know in the defence that he brings it. Development-wise he’s going to do everything he can to get better each and every day like normally he’s been doing and we’re going to be behind him 100%, he’s out teammate.”