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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Hardaway 'confident' he can fill J.R.'s shoes

By Ian Begley

NEW YORK -- Tim Hardaway Jr. was casually dribbling and shooting around with his fellow rookies at the Knicks' facility Tuesday afternoon, about three weeks after spraining his left wrist in the NBA summer league.

He said afterward that his wrist is pain free and he is confident he'll be 100 percent healthy for training camp.

Tim Hardaway Jr.
"You've got to be confident in your abilities," said Knicks first-round pick Tim Hardaway Jr.
"I feel really good," Hardaway said Tuesday at the NBA rookie photo shoot in Greenburgh. "No pain."

The Knicks' first-round pick says he's been "taking it easy" and avoiding any risks as he prepares for his first NBA training camp.

"I just want to be precautionary, that's all; I feel good. I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent for training camp," Hardaway said.

The former Michigan standout reportedly was seen wearing a protective brace on his wrist during the rookie symposium Wednesday, according to the New York Post.

But he said Tuesday that he is confident he'll be fully healthy when training camp starts.

And that's important for the Knicks.

J.R. Smith is expected to miss at least part of training camp and possibly part of the regular season following knee surgery. So the Knicks might count on Hardaway to fill the void left by last season's Sixth Man Award winner.

If they do, Hardaway says he's confident he can answer the call.

"You've got to be confident in your abilities. That's why they drafted you; that's why they wanted you here. They feel like you're a missing piece to the puzzle, and you've just got to take advantage of it," Hardaway said. "We hope [Smith] gets back quickly and he's just as good as he was before the surgery. I know when he gets back, it's going to be tough [for him, initially]. But right now I think it's my time to step in for a little bit and just help the team out while he's out."

Hardaway suffered the wrist injury in his second summer league game. X-rays for the injury came back negative, and it was described as a sprain. So it's a bit concerning that Hardaway is still reportedly wearing a brace. But he said several times Tuesday that he is feeling fine and will make sure he is ready for training camp in October.

"I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent so I have the opportunity to play while J.R. is out. I don't want to do anything out of the ordinary," he said.

HARDAWAY: DAD DIDN'T GUARANTEE HEAT TITLE: Tim Hardaway Sr., a Heat scout and the father of the Knicks' first-round pick, said in late July he thought the Heat could win their third straight title if the team signed Greg Oden.

Oden has signed with the Heat. So many in the media (including this writer) have wondered whether that means Hardaway Sr. is predicting a Heat title for this season.

Hardaway Jr., though, dismissed that theory Tuesday. He said his father was just offering an opinion, not making any bold predictions or proclamations.

"Everybody's blowing it out of proportion," Hardaway said. "He said, 'I think,' not a prediction or guarantee."

QUESTION: Do you think Hardaway can fill the void if Smith misses the first portion of the season?

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