New York Knicks president Leon Rose makes his first move, albeit a small one, by claiming two-way player Jared Harper from the Suns.
The New York Knicks are eliminated from the NBA’s restart in Orlando, but that didn’t stop the team from claiming Jared Harper off waivers, who will join Kenny Wooten as two-play players in the organization. In a corresponding move, the Knicks waived Kadeem Allen.
Harper went undrafted out of Auburn last season, but was scooped up by the Phoenix Suns to occupy a spot on the Northern Arizona Suns G League roster. Harper continued his fierce momentum from a tremendous Final Four run under Bruce Pearl at Auburn in 2019, catching fire with the Suns’ G League affiliate.
The speedster averaged 20.8 points and 5.7 assists through 33 games in the G League. Harper’s three-ball translated nicely to the NBA as well, shooting 35.9% from downtown. What he lacks in height — standing at just 5-foot-11 — he makes up for in skill with his innate quickness and stellar offensive standard.
Although Harper figures to spend the majority of his time in Westchester in the G League, there remains some promise in the young point guard. For starters, the Knicks are the midst of a massive rebuild, so Harper could have a much easier time proving himself at the Garden.
Right now the depth chart includes Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., and Elfrid Payton. The Knicks could opt to take the point guard of the future in October’s draft with their lottery pick, which could very well crowd the backcourt even more. However, since the pool of players lacks a certain oomph, Harper could make a splash at some point down the line.
Depending on who the head coach will be in the coming weeks, Harper’s tenure in New York could be a lot more profound. If an established coach such as Tom Thibodeau were to come to town — who is the clear frontrunner in the race — then Harper could struggle to find the court as Thibs may push the rebuild along faster. If a developmentally-minded hire were made, such as Kenny Atkinson, then the Auburn alum could find the floor as Atkinson may juggle the lineup frequently to see which hidden gems are at his disposal.
Team president Leon Rose’s first move in charge may not be the biggest splash of all-time, but it’s a start. Signing Harper may say a lot about Rose. He doesn’t worry about the pressures that come with being at the head of the storied franchise.
A big move right away could hinder the progress of a steady rebuild, but Rose took a low-key signing of Harper to show the fans that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Entering the rebuilding phase under new management could bring along its statute of expectations, but the two-way contract given to Harper is potentially a beacon of what is to come in terms of developing young, promising talent in the Knicks organization.