Ever since he stepped on the court for the Knicks, Iman Shumpert has been a fan favorite. Dating back to his days when the city clamored for him to run the point under D’Antoni, to his three point barrage to bring the Knicks back into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Indiana, or even his latest triumph in the Texas Triangle last season, the young wing player has always found a way to bring excitement to the Knicks.
Ask any fan to list their crunch time lineup and Shumpert will be involved. Fans can cite his perimeter defense (which hasn’t fully recovered since he tore his ACL) to his three point shooting (which has improved greatly since that same injury) that at times can carry the team for short bursts. With all that being said and the fact that Shumpert is just 24 year old at the moment, could this really be Shump’s last year in New York?
While Shumpert has remained in high regard by the fans, the Knicks front office has had some issues with the shooting guard. Most of these issues were before Phil Jackson took over basketball operations and had a lot to do with former Head Coach Mike Woodson, but they can’t be completely written off.
For the last two seasons, Iman almost became the Knicks version of Pau Gasol where every other trade rumor coming out of New York involved Shumpert going to team X, sometimes for as little as a late first or early second round draft pick.
Rumor has it that Phil Jackson is a bit higher on Shumpert and may want to keep him in New York beyond this season despite the surplus of wing players. That could be good news for Knicks fans wanting to see the guard stay, but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
Numerous teams, most notably the Oklahoma City Thunder, have pined for Iman Shumpert for a few years now and will likely gear up for a run at him next offseason. The Thunder will finally shed the never ending Kendrick Perkins extension next year, freeing up a lot of cap space which could allow them to offer Shumpert more than $2-4 million a season.
Another rumor that broke this summer was that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted Shumpert, especially to replace the defensive hole that will be vacated by Andrew Wiggins once the team deals him for Kevin Love. The Cavs’ cap situation is tricky; they will have almost $40 million on the books just for Kyrie Irving and Lebron next season, and they still have to resign Love. For this reason, they may be more aggressive to land Shumpert via trade, but the Knicks aren’t looking to give away their young guard either.
The Heat are another team that has been linked to Iman Shumpert. Even though they likely will be better than the Knicks this season, their offseason pitch would be similar to New York’s: have faith that we can figure out how to rework the roster to become real title contenders. This is under the assumption that the money is similar.
Shumpert isn’t exactly helpless in all of this though. If he plays well, forces the Knicks to start him, and the team is in playoff contention leading up to that February deadline, it would be a tough sell for Jackson to explain why the Knicks traded a 24 year old guard who can defend and shoot.
Carmelo Anthony famously stood up for Shump a couple seasons ago, telling the front office not to put him in a deal for Tyreke Evans, so maybe Anthony still being here and Woodson no longer the coach makes the situation all the more enticing to Iman as a free agent.
For most of his career now, Shumpert has been involved in trade rumors one way or the other, something that usually pushes players away from teams when they have a chance to leave. But as far as we know, some executives in the front office are hoping that this is not the case this time around.