Should NY Knicks Consider Trading a Healthy Iman Shumpert?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17:  Iman Shumpert of New York Knicks looks on during the NBA London Live 2013 game between New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons at the O2 Arena on January 17, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Vin GetzCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2013

The mere mention of the New York Knicks trading Iman Shumpert is sure to cause a fan uproar and invite accusations of rumor mongering.

Hold on.

Peyton Manning was just dumped for Andrew Luck in what is looking like the correct long-term move. The Mets moved “The Franchise,” Tom Seaver, who went on to pitch another nine years and toss a no-hitter.

Darrelle Revis is supposedly on the block as this is written. Even Babe Ruth was handed the old pink slip, finishing his career in Boston.

Emotion aside, Shumpert isn’t close to any of these guys’ caliber. And, by the way, the Knicks were already prepared to trade Shumpert in a package to get Steve Nash before he went to the Los Angeles Lakers.

When it comes to building a championship team, balancing the bottom line or building the right chemistry, almost no one is sacred.

And if the team is so close but unable to reach the peak, as the Knicks may be, a somewhat-painful sacrifice might bring in the final fitting piece that pushes it over the top.

Take Shaquille O’Neal’s trade from the Lakers to the Miami Heat that over time wound up bringing championships to both cities, for example.

Where does Iman Shumpert fit into this paradigm?

For the Knicks, the only untradeable player right now is Carmelo Anthony.

Admittedly, it’s unlikely we’ll see Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith or Jason Kidd traded anytime soon.

They have been too critical in the remaking of this team, each one important cogs in the Knicks’ super start to the 2012-13 wheel. The backcourt will spring back to its early-season form once Felton comes back.

But everyone else is fair enough game, and that—on paper—includes Iman Shumpert. The Knicks have for the most part been doing well enough without him. Depending on how he returns from his torn ACL, Shumpert may be at his highest trade value now.

And with James Dolan, a usually-unfeeling though loyal owner behind the curtain, anything can happen, as the Jeremy Lin release evinced.

The thing is, what if Iman Shumpert is that final fitting piece? There’s no way to tell yet and the Knicks have to give it a little time.

Shumpert’s returning from a torn ACL; he’s played in just three games all under 30 minutes each and has been more than satisfactory.

Per 36 minutes, an appropriate measure given his limited time so far, Shump is at about 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and three assists. The Knicks are 2-1 in his three games back, and he was a factor in the win against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

And he’s young, as the New York Times notes:

Shumpert is the youngest Knick by nearly 5 years. Four players on the current New York roster made their N.B.A. debut before Shumpert celebrated his seventh birthday.”

It’s not just that he is young and is looking forward to many productive years, but by standing in (and starting) and consuming minutes, he will also extend the season life span of older players in the backfield like soon-to-be 40-year-old Jason Kidd and 35-year-old Pablo Prigioni.

Also, this just may not be the Knicks’ year. It’s very possible this that roster could peak next season.

By now, the story of Shumpert’s defensive contribution is well-known, but his offense still needs work. Again, per the Times,

“Last season, of the Knicks who played more than 1,000 minutes he was last in true shooting percentage, a measure of shooting efficiency that incorporates free throws and 3-pointers.”

New York must wait to see how Shumpert’s offense develops before having thoughts of moving him. If he improves considerably, which is possible given his temperament, enthusiasm and work effort, the Knicks win either way.

They gain a difference-making player or have a better trade chip.

At this point, too, Shumpert is cheap. What kind of trade worth its salt involving his $1.6 million salary isn’t going to blow up the payroll? None right now.

The NBA trading deadline is February 21. There are 11 games on the schedule until then.

That’s too soon to give up on Shump, who also brings an infectious, personable set of intangibles to the team.

Without an offseason trade packaging Shumpert with another player or two and salary for someone huge, the Knicks should wait and see how they are doing at the 2013-14 trade deadline.

 

Stats are accurate as of Jan. 23, 2012.

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