Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) walks slowly near the end of an NBA game between the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 9, 2017. The Hawks won in overtime 126-125 after coming back from being 26 points down in the fourth quarter. (Henry Taylor/ henry.taylor@ajc.com)

Hardaway Jr. a restricted free agent as Hawks extend qualifying offer

The Hawks extended a qualifying offer to Tim Hardaway Jr. on Monday, officially making the shooting guard a restricted free agent. The move was expected and gives the Hawks flexibility regarding Hardaway’s contract.

Hardaway would have been an unrestricted free agent had the Hawks not made the qualifying offer. Now, the Hawks have the right of first refusal and can match any offer sheet that Hardaway might sign from another team.

The qualifying offer is binding as a one-year contract. Hardaway’s offer is for $4.6 million. He can choose to sign the offer and be under contract next season at that salary. Hardaway is unlikely to do so, as he will almost certainly receive much more lucrative offers from other teams when the NBA free-agency period begins July 1. The Hawks can match an offer, and Hardaway would be under contract under the terms of the signed offer sheet.

The Hawks also have the ability to rescind the qualifying offer at any time going forward.

Hardaway and the Hawks did not reach an agreement on a rookie contract extension by the deadline in November, setting up his restricted free agency. There were talks, but a deal was never close.

Hardaway has shown steady improvement in two seasons with the Hawks after he was acquired in a draft-night trade with the Knicks in 2015. Last season he averaged 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 79 games. He shot 35.7 percent from 3-point range. Hardaway earned a spot in the starting lineup by the end of the regular season and for the playoffs.

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