New York Knicks Must Keep Iman Shumpert to Make Statement in Playoffs

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2013

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

The New York Knicks rank second in the Eastern Conference and are in a strong position for a long playoff run, but all of their efforts will be wasted if general manager Glen Grunwald opts to trade second-year guard and pest extraordinaire Iman Shumpert.

On February 9, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Phoenix Suns had contacted the Knicks about Shumpert's services. In the event of a trade, Phoenix would send shooter Jared Dudley and possibly a first-round pick to New York.

Simply put, the New York Knicks cannot make this trade.

Dudley can do little more than hit three-pointers and his defense does not even hold a candle to Shumpert's. Seeing as how the Knicks already have excellent shooters in J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, such a deal makes no sense.

Pulling the trigger on this trade would just be mere impatience on Grunwald's part. Shumpert has only posted 5.3 points and less than a steal per game this season, but let's not forget that he is coming back from major knee surgery and has played in just a dozen games.

Once he gets his legs back and starts playing more than 19 minutes per game, he should be a far improved player.

Keep in mind that this is the same Iman Shumpert who posted 17.3 points per game in his junior year at Georgia Tech. He still has some work to do with his jump shot, but has plenty of potential to make an impact in the scoring department.

Until then, it's perfectly fine for the Knicks to use him solely as a pest.

More importantly, the Knicks need to keep Shumpert aboard because losing him would heavily disrupt team chemistry. Head coach Mike Woodson has found a solid formula in starting Shumpert at small forward and Carmelo Anthony at power forward, so why try and fix what's not broken?

The fact of the matter is that, in potentially losing their best perimeter defender in Shumpert, the Knicks also lose a player who can be something of a secret weapon in the postseason.

Shumpert can defend, drive the lane, dunk and has such a higher ceiling than Dudley, a shooter who has only managed to average 11.5 points per game this season in Phoenix's fast-paced offense.

Dudley is just the worst possible fit for the Knicks right now and definitely not worth Iman Shumpert. Granted, New York could make this trade, but only if Grunwald and team owner Jim Dolan decided that the playoffs and winning a championship were overrated.

Seeing as how a bunch of angry Knicks fans would likely storm Madison Square Garden if such a trade went down, the team's front office should make the right decision and keep Shumpert aboard.

In doing so, the Knicks will not only make the playoffs, but also stick around for a period that lasts much longer than the first round.