The Knicks have battled inconsistencies for months now, despite their impressive record atop the Atlantic Division, so it’s natural to think that a changeup may be needed. Just don’t count on Iman Shumpert being moved as a way to shake up things.
Following a report over the weekend that the Suns were inquiring about a trade scenario involving Shumpert, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson had to shoot down the rumors — with a caveat.
“Iman’s a big part of what we do [and] I’ve got a lot of faith in Iman. This organization does, too. We’ll get him where he needs to be, [but] it’s going to take a little time. He’s been kind of on a little roller-coaster ride, so my job is to continue to show him some love and assure him he’s a part of what we do,” Woodson said, adding the catch. “If owners came to me and said we have to do a deal, then you do the deal. [But] as I told my daughter [who is friends with Shumpert from their Georgia Tech days], ‘Iman’s going to be right here with me.’”
Shumpert said he’s not really thinking about the rumors, noting it’s part of the business. The swingman, who’s played only 12 games this season after missing the first two months following rehab on his torn left ACL, added Woodson immediately came to him once the story broke and reassured him.
“He said don’t worry about it,” Shumpert said. “Rumors are rumors.”
Carmelo Anthony, who may have as much power as any player within the organization, nearly guaranteed that his buddy is safe from the trading block, saying Shumpert “isn’t going nowhere … He doesn’t have to worry about that. The Knicks shouldn’t even be in trade talks.”
Perhaps the Suns thought they could get Shumpert on the cheap, considering his diminished stats and knee recovery. But more pressing than trying to get a bargain, the Suns have reportedly been kicking themselves since they passed on Shumpert in the 2011 NBA Draft and are trying to correct a wrong. They even went as far as to push the Knicks to include him in any sign-and-trade scenarios that were discussed for Steve Nash in July. And in the past week, the Suns had sent scouts to Knicks games to see the object of their affection.
Phoenix reportedly offered veteran swingman Jared Dudley and possibly a first-round pick for Shumpert. Dudley has three years and $12.8 million left on his contract and is averaging 11.8 points and 3.6 rebounds this season.
And while Dudley is a serviceable player, who by all accounts is a great teammate, a good 3-point shooter (39 percent) and a willing defender, the trade “doesn’t make sense” on New York’s end, noted a Knicks official. Woodson and his staff have always held to their beliefs that Shumpert could be a special player once he’s 100-percent recovered. The second-year player is averaging only 5.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 18.9, while shooting a paltry 34.3 percent from the field, but Shumpert has started all 12 games since his return from the knee injury and is getting better, Woodson said.
The Knicks’ official said Shumpert’s real value is his youth, energy, athleticism and ability to defend multiple wing positions — even if the Knicks are currently struggling to defend opposing wing players. Shumpert’s contract is also a plus for the Knicks. He’s set to make $1.6 million this season, $1.7 million next season and $2.6 million in 2014-15. Those cheap numbers — relative to the NBA’s market value — make Shumpert real valuable to the Knicks.
Woodson said once his shooting guard completely recovers, the real value will be on the defensive end.
“I’m happy as [heck] to have him back on the floor. He brings us so much energy, and his teammates feed off of him,” Woodson said. “The thing about Rook is that he can defend four positions, can play the 1 [point guard] or the 2 [shooting guard], and he can handle the basketball, which will relieve [Jason] Kidd and Raymond [Felton] of always handling it so much. … It’s just nice to have him back.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.