Hardaway Jr. still searching for his game

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NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson’s salary dump of a trade last week has given the New York Knicks more cap space to work with this summer. It also gives New York's younger players a chance to prove themselves over the next three months.

One player with a great opportunity to turn his season around is Tim Hardaway Jr.

So far, things haven’t gone as planned for the second-year shooting guard.

Hardaway is shooting 38 percent from the field this season and 31 percent from beyond the arc, both down from his surprising rookie campaign.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher noted this week that Hardaway, like most young players, needs to develop a more consistent approach to the game.

“Tim’s a second-year player, he’s not going to have all that you need to be consistently successful at this point,” Fisher said. “But he’s doing well and he’s having a rough patch right now, but he works hard every day.”

The former Michigan standout surprised many around the league with a strong rookie season last year, establishing himself as one of most accurate young shooters in the league. Hardaway had the highest 3-point field goal percentage among rookies with at least 55 attempts.

Early on this season, Hardaway wasn't playing regular minutes, which may have impacted his shot. And despite playing more regularly lately -- Hardaway has been the Knicks’ starting shooting guard for the past month -- the results haven’t changed much. During that span, he’s averaging 14.2 points per game on 37 percent shooting (30 percent from beyond the arc).

Hardaway’s defense continues to be an issue as well. His defensive real plus minus -- a measure of a player’s impact on his team’s defensive efficiency -- is minus-2.84, which ranks 90th out of 96 shooting guards who qualify.

Hardaway is under contract for next season -- but every Knick outside of Carmelo Anthony could be available in trades. If the Knicks get a strong offer for Hardaway, they would probably be open to moving him.

Phil compliments Stoudemire's “heart”: Amar’e Stoudemire has missed nine straight games due to a sore right knee. Derek Fisher said on Saturday that Stoudemire may practice this week. Phil Jackson said Stoudemire has impressed the coaching staff with his willingness to risk injury to help the team.

“People always bring Carmelo [Anthony] up, but also Amar’e has also been extremely important to lose for us,” Jackson said on Saturday.

“When we were in Chicago [Dec. 18] and we were having a difficult time with injuries, [Stoudemire] stepped forward," Jackson said. "He’s got a great heart and we appreciate that about his effort.”

Jackson wasn't as complimentary of point guard Jose Calderon. Calderon was the main component for Jackson in his trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas. Calderon, owed $15 million over the next two seasons, has struggled in his first season in New York, shooting just 40 percent from the floor.

“Jose’s going to play better. I think he’s going to recover and have a substantial increase in his capabilities as the season goes on,” Jackson said. “I’m sure he’s as disappointed as we are in his start to the first half of the season.”