The New York Knicks claimed point guard Jared Harper off waivers from the Phoenix Suns in June. Harper signed with the Suns as an undrafted free agent last offseason and spent the 2019-20 season with the team’s G-League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. Across 34 games, he averaged 20.2 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the arc.
In an interview with Marc Berman of the New York Post, Harper said Knicks president Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry “couldn’t wait” for him to join the team.
“[Rose and Perry] told me they couldn’t wait for me to be part of the team, be in New York and be myself,’’ Harper told The Post in a phone interview. “Just play my game and everything else will take care of itself. I feel there are a lot of great things I could do and have good potential to do those things.’’
While the G-League came with its fair share of challenges, Harper said he became “a better basketball player” last season.
“At times I felt it could have been frustrating just wanting to get an opportunity to be on the NBA floor and try to contribute to the team,” Harper said. “I still felt overall it was a great first year being in the G-League improving. I felt this year is the most I’ve improved overall in my career, able to work on different things. I definitely felt I became a better basketball player. I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any another way because I feel I improved.’’
Harper compares the Knicks to the Auburn Tigers, his alma mater, in regards to having “a great fan base.”
“It’s definitely a great spot for me,’’ Harper said. “I’ll be able to grow as a basketball player. That it happened so quick was just assurance to me I belong at this level.
“It’s similar to my Auburn situation — a great fan base. Auburn was really good before and struggled a bit and I was able to get the Auburn program back up again. I feel I want to help make Knicks basketball what it was before.‘’
Harper played and started three seasons at Auburn. Across those seasons, he averaged 13.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Harper said he’s going to “compete” whenever he steps on the floor for the Knicks.
“I’m someone who’s going to compete every time he’s on the floor,’’ Harper said. “Someone who knows what it takes to win, someone who is going to enjoy the moment.’’
Harper joins a point guard depth chart that includes Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., and potentially Elfrid Payton, who the Knicks have an $8 million team option on for the 2020-21 NBA season.