MIDDLETOWN – N.Y.
On its surface the 4-year $81-million deal agreed to by Josh Hart to remain with The New York Knicks seems rich for a player who has career averages of 9.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assist per game yet this view would be both fiscally inaccurate by current NBA salary standards, and woefully off from a symbolism point of view.
Josh Hart is an NBA role player. He’s 28-years old, is likely as good as he will ever be and is in no way a threat to be anything more than a good piece. So why pay him just north of $20 million a season?
Like with many before him, Josh Hart has special value to this specific team at this specific time. Furthermore, when you look at the guys who make similar money, this contract isn’t exactly out of place. Consider the below list:
*Data from Hoopshype
|85.||Gary Trent Jr||$18,560,000||$0||$0||$0|
Sure there’s a few bargains in there – Smart, Anunoby, and Hield jump out, but the bulIk of that list are guys who ability and now salary wise are right in line with Hart. Sure the Knicks could’ve declined the offer this extension and maybe played hardball. Perhaps they could’ve retained him for less, or perhaps they could’ve found a player who might produce similar metrics for less but what message would that send to the team and its fans?
Don’t you want to reward guys like Hart who come here, in his case via trade and light the team on fire with their energy and play? Isn’t it the epitome of American virtue to work hard and then be rewarded by your employer?
This signing not only produces good vibes for the team heading into a new season, it also symbolizes in no uncertain terms that this team is looking to win. This brain trust of coach and front office has no interest in resting on its laurels. It has no interest in saving some relative pennies at the expense of team morale. This team means to win and build on its most successful season in over a decade.
Unlike the Mets who got rid of many of their top players for lottery tickets (see prospects), and the Yankees who kept players that are stale and underperforming (see Torres, Donaldson etc), the Knicks kept a young man who 1. Wants to be here, 2. Made a huge impact emotionally on this team that far outstripped his fair but not spectacular stats and 3. Is a significant part of something the Knicks haven’t had in decades – a young competent and cohesive core of players that any team should be proud of.
So before you become the boomer who howls at the moon every time a role player in 2023 gets paid what a star 10-15 years ago used to consider the larger financial reality of the league, emotional and team building boost of the resigning, and the practical alternatives to maybe saving some money and what that prudish move would’ve cost.
Josh is back and it Heartens me to see it.