The Villanova Wildcats are running rampant at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have agreed to sign forward Josh Hart to a contract extension worth $81 million over four years, according to ESPN. He is now under contract for the next five seasons, with a 2022-23 salary of $12.96 million, though he cannot officially sign the contract until Thursday due to the league’s collective bargaining agreement rules.
Hart is reportedly due $18.1 million in Year 1 of his deal, which means his contract likely includes 8% annual raises. Under this pay structure, the Knicks forward is due $19.5 million in Year 2, $20.96 million in Year 3, and $22.4 million in Year 4.
Hart is the third Villanova product to secure a payday at The Garden.
The Knicks acquired Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers at last season’s trade deadline in exchange for Cam Reddish, Svi Mykhailiuk, Ryan Arcidiacono and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick.
The Trail Blazers used that pick to select Iowa’s Kris Murray at No. 23.
And the Knicks used Hart to cement their status as an Eastern Conference playoff team last season. The Knicks won nine straight games and went 17-8 in the second half of last season after acquiring Hart and inserting him into the rotation. The Swiss-army knife forward averaged 10.2 points, seven rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals off the bench for Tom Thibodeau while also shooting an unconscious 52% from three-point range after arriving in New York.
Hart’s 52% clip from three-point range ranked second-best among qualifying players following the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline behind only Memphis’ Luke Kennard.
He also played an integral role in the Knicks’ first-round playoff series, a five-game upset over the higher-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. He scored 13 or more points three times in the series and played 47 minutes and grabbed 12 rebounds in the closeout Game 5.
Hart’s shooting efficiency dropped below average — 31.3 percent — through 11 playoff games, but he still averaged more than 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists on 48% shooting from the field in the postseason.
The Knicks now have their Wildcat core locked in for at least the next two seasons.
Brunson will be eligible to decline the final year on his four-year contract and seek a larger contract in the summer of 2025. Julius Randle also reserves the right to decline his $32.4 million player option and test free agency in the summer of 2025, when the salary cap is expected to rise 10% due to the pending renegotiation of the NBA’s TV broadcast deal.
For now, the tab is on Hart.
At least that’s what his teammate Brunson said on social media shortly after the details of Hart’s contract became public.
“Pick up that tab tonight nephew @joshhart,” Brunson wrote.
Hart, 28, will be under contract until age 33.