With less than 10 days before the clock strikes 3 p.m. on the league trade deadline, the New York Knicks are once again in need of a major overhaul in order to save their season. And once again, the Knicks are out of attractive pieces to offer anyone.
Don’t flinch at any of that talk of a possible Melo trade because you and I both know the last thing James Dolan would do is move his most prized acquisition. A much more realistic move, however, might be Iman Shumpert finally being traded.
Unfortunately the Knicks might have held onto their Shumpert hand a bit too long because his value around the league seems to have plummeted. How did one of the Knicks most sought after players become another throwaway player that other teams scoff at? From being in Mike Woodson’s doghouse, to the Knicks’ lack of development goals, and of course to Shumpert himself, there’s no shortage of blame to go around.
It can be argued that Knicks’ fans themselves have also played a role in Shump’s fall. Time after time Knick fans have over-rated young players, and it’s a pattern that needs breaking. There is no denying that Shump looked promising during his rookie season. His energetic personality was naturally magnetic and his athleticism (an original contestant for the dunk contest) impressed everyone around the league. You might even recall that fans pointed to his injury during the playoffs as being a major reason the Knicks were no match for the Miami Heat.
Despite the disappointment of how his year ended, fans’ enthusiasm with his future was palpable enough for Shump’s “brand” to begin to rise as high as his flattop, which by the way lent itself to an awesome logo. A personal website was quickly erected, his social media presence expanded, and he even released a few catchy music videos. Yes, the era of #21ShumpStreet was here.
In Shumpert’s second season, his ACL tear from the Miami series would keep him sidelined until mid January. Understandably, his sophomore year was a much more difficult one. His overall numbers would see a small drop (9.5 ppg to 6.8, 2.8 apg to 1.7, 1.7spg to 1.0) but it wasn’t until the playoffs when he began to look a bit like the promising player Knicks fan remember from the previous year.
However, when the season was over Shump made his first major mistake by displeasing Dolan in forgoing playing more than one game in the Knicks summer league due to “prior engagements”. Those other commitments came in the form of running his own summer camp and travelling to China as a league ambassador. You know, more important things than summer league.
When this season’s preseason games began it looked as if not attending summer league made no difference. In fact, no other Knick looked as good as Shump did. In one game he even shot a perfect 7-7 and looked like as if he was finally on the cusp of becoming the All-Star player Knicks’ fans thought he could become. Then, for whatever reason, Woodson revealed that Shump’s starting spot might go to J.R. Smith, whose poor offseason antics clearly dwarfed Shump’s.
This would begin a Shump/Woody rift that many fans cited as the reason for Shump’s less than stellar year. Every now and then Shump has shown glimpses of thrilling play, but you don’t have to look at his numbers to realize how much he’s struggled trying to fit into the roster.
Smash cut to today.
With the Knicks in desperate need of determining how they could clean up their roster, Shump’s value as their biggest trade asset has really taken a hit. I don’t think it’s fair to him that he’s not a player commanding the trade attention we thought he would get. At one point it seemed like names like Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo, and Pau Gasol could easily have been nabbed by dangling Shumpert, and right now other GMs would probably laugh at that kind of offer.
Knicks’ fans may be perplexed by his drop-off in value, but outside of our minds, maybe other teams see Shump no less and no more than what he actually is. Perhaps Shump never was meant to be an all-star, or maybe even a starter. Maybe an understated role player in the likes of someone like Thabo Sefolosha was better suited for him than being the highlight machine his personal PR team makes him out to be.
Let’s not forget that it was by Shump’s own admission that he needed to cut his hair in order to become better focused on team winning instead of individual achievement.