Knicks Rumors: Iman Shumpert Nearing Return, Will Likely Play in London

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2013

Just a short while after Amar'e Stoudemire finally made his season debut, the New York Knicks have received yet another great piece of news on the injury front.

After returning to full-contact practice, sophomore guard Iman Shumpert has been cleared to play (via ESPN's Jared Zwerling) and should make his season debut next week.

In what should be particularly great news for international fans, Shumpert will "probably" get his first taste of action in London, as the Knicks go up against the Detroit Pistons at the O2 Arena on Thursday.

With Stoudemire back, Shumpert returning and Raymond Felton just a few weeks away from his comeback, the Knicks are getting healthy at the right time.

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Knicks are in need of a boost, and this is exactly what Shumpert can provide. It will take a while for him to adjust, but he can provide immediate help on the defensive end where New York has been disappointing this season.

Looking at the manner of their recent losses to the likes of Boston and Chicago, the Knicks have lacked the toughness and energy that Shumpert brings to the table. If he can return to form quickly, he will be a huge part of their run toward home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Shumpert was extremely impressive in his rookie season with the Knicks. After being booed on draft night, he proved himself to be an elite defensive player and someone who will be a major piece of the team's future.

The season ended badly for him after suffering that ACL tear in the playoffs, but Shumpert has worked hard, and in an interview with, he called it "one of the best things to ever happen [to him]."

In that interview, Shump talked about having a chance to improve his corner three and play in a more controlled fashion. His jump shot and erratic offense were his major flaws last season, so having those ironed out is the first stage in his development into a top shooting guard.

Imagine Ronnie Brewer, but with more athleticism and a consistent jump shot. That's what the Knicks could be getting with Shumpert back in the lineup.

While nursing his injury, Shumpert has stayed active, releasing his mixtape, recording a song about the Knicks and continuing to go through his intense pregame routine with his team.

But it cannot be underestimated how big a piece of this team Shumpert is when on the court. The Knicks have been great on the whole this season, but their best basketball could be yet to come with STAT and Shump only just returning.

Shumpert may not be the Knicks' biggest name, but fans should rightly be excited to see him back on the floor. This is a huge piece of news, and we'll all be reminded of just how good Shumpert is as we move into the second half of the season.