Written by Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
With the NBA Drat just days away, trade rumors and speculation are swirling. The New York Knicks, who do not own a pick in the draft this year, are looking for ways to get into the foray. One discussion that has been discussed is the Knicks buying their way into the draft, with President Phil Jackson tossing some money at a team looking to send away some of their picks. Another option that has arisen is trading shooting guard Iman Shumpert, which would be an unintelligent move to make if not handled correctly.
Shumpert did not blossom offensively as the Knicks hoped in 2013-2014 after a strong playoff run in 2013. Shumpert finished this season with underwhelming offensive numbers, averaging only 6.7 points per game on 37.8 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from three point territory. He too often settled for jump shots, attacking the basket less this season while attempting only 71 free throws in 74 games.
Shumpert also had to deal with constant changing to his role, having to start at shooting guard and small forward and then being moved to the bench in favor of J.R. Smith. The constant trade rumors he had to deal with during the season also seemed to wear on the young shooting guard, as Shumpert never really got on track during the season.
Reports are that Shumpert is once again being dangled in trade rumors, this time for a pick late in the first round of the draft. There are a few teams that look interested, the first being the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder were very interested in adding Shumpert at this past season’s trade deadline, offering a first round pick in return. That seems to be the trade that is on the table once again at this current time, as the Thunder own picks 21 and 29 in the first round this season.
Another team in the same boat is the Los Angeles Clippers. Like the Thunder, they had a lot of interest in Shumpert near the trade deadline. They were even willing to trade for him after he suffered an injury. This trade fell apart, much like with the Thunder, because the Knicks insisted any team trading for Shumpert take back Raymond Felton as well.
It was a decision that was smart at the time, and would make just as much sense now. No matter whom the Knicks draft, no player will be able to replace the production Shumpert gave them. While his offense may not be peaking as they wish, he still offers excellent defense and fills up the stat sheet in other ways, averaging 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 in only 26.5 minutes of action per game.
If the Knicks are to trade off essentially their only asset, and one of their only true building blocks, there has to be other incentive other than getting a pick in what many people believe is a loaded draft. Ridding themselves of a contract such as Felton or J.R. Smith in the process would be a smart move. Moving either Shumpert and/or Smith will also open up playing time for Tim Hardaway Jr.
Another team that could show interest in Shumpert is the Phoenix Suns. They already have an outstanding backcourt duo in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but both are undersized to be playing together. Bledsoe is also a restricted free agent, and there is no guarantee that the Suns will match any offer he receives. The Suns also possess multiple first round picks, having the 14th, 18th and 27th picks in the draft this season. If they do not package those to move up, sending one to the Knicks for Shumpert is a possibility.
A dark-horse team to acquire the services of Shumpert is the Miami Heat. They have the 26th pick in the draft, which is right in the range the Knicks are looking to get in at. The Heat are looking to draft players that can come in and help them immediately, given their current roster situation and championship aspirations. What better way to add a player to help immediately than adding someone like Shumpert? Shumpert would help them immensely in a couple of areas they struggle in, giving them some depth at the wing and a legitimate option at replacing Wade when he needs to sit for rest.
While Shumpert it seems could fetch the Knicks a first round pick, it is something they need to avoid doing. No player that deep in the draft will help the Knicks in the near future, convincing Carmelo Anthony to stay with the team long-term. The only way the Knicks should realistically consider trading Shumpert would be if they rid themselves of one of the contracts that run beyond the 2014-2015, namely Felton or Smith.
It isn’t a huge market for Shumpert since it seems the Knicks options are mostly limited to teams with multiple first round picks looking to move at least one. This week is the first real chance Jackson has to shape the Knicks roster; here’s to hoping he waves his magic wand and makes something positive out of the situation during draft week.