According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Phoenix Suns are pursuing a trade for New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. In return, the Knicks would receive Jared Dudley and a future first-round draft pick.
If the Knicks plan on dealing Shumpert, they must set the bar high—much higher than this.
For those unfamiliar with Shumpert, he was a point guard at Georgia Tech before jumping to the NBA after his junior year. The Knicks proceeded to select him 17th overall during the 2011 NBA draft.
Four picks earlier, the Suns opted to go with Markieff Morris—a move that Wojnarowski reports Phoenix regrets.
In his first year in the league, Shumpert was a key contributor. He averaged 1.7 steals per game and became the Knicks' lead perimeter defender with Tyson Chandler manning the paint behind him.
This earned Shumpert an appearance on the All-Rookie First Team and two third-place votes for Defensive Player of the Year (via NBA.com).
During the Knicks' first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Shumpert suffered a torn left ACL (via ESPN New York). Shumpert was ruled out for 6-8 months.
Nearly 10 months later, Shumpert made his season debut in London, England—38 games into the Knicks' season.
This is where the potential for a trade is derived from, as the Knicks managed to jump out to a record of 24-13 with Shumpert sidelined. With that being said, there is no way to justify a potential trade.
Not when Shumpert is of such extraordinary value.
The Age Factor
Eight of the 15 players currently on the New York Knicks roster are above the age of 30. Fourteen of their 15 players are 27 or older.
That leaves Iman Shumpert, 22, as the only player on the Knicks that is younger than 27.
This may cause some to believe that the Knicks are led by veterans. This comes with good reason, as most players are either in their prime or at an age in which they're willing to sacrifice personal achievement for one last title.
In terms of the long-term outlook, however, one thing is clear—without Shumpert, there is no future.
Three years from now, four current Knicks will be older than 40. Every single one of their players will be 30 or above.
In other words, if the Knicks are looking to sustain success throughout Carmelo Anthony's prime, they'll need to hold onto their youth. In fact, they'll need to add youth before they subtract it.
For what it's worth, Jared Dudley is 27 as well. As for that future draft choice, we can't fool ourselves into labeling that as compensation.
Not when Shumpert has already emerged as an elite perimeter defender.
The Trouble with a Draft Choice
The most attractive aspect of the Phoenix Suns' trade offer to the New York Knicks is undoubtedly the future first-round draft choice. With the Suns resting at a Western Conference-worst 17-36, one would imagine New York would receive a lottery pick.
The question is how likely is it that the Knicks draft a player that is already considered to be an elite perimeter defender?
New York may find a more well-rounded player than Shumpert come draft day, but they could also find a bust. That is the risk that the Knicks take in dealing Shumpert as opposed to trusting his progression.
The only justifiable argument is that Shumpert has the potential to become injury-prone.
Even still, the Knicks have no guarantee that the player they draft will fare any better than Shump. For that reason, they must set the bar high when they inevitably receive trade calls.
High enough to truly compensate for one of the league's premier perimeter defenders.
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