As reported by the New York Post's Marc Berman, Shumpert's name and the dreaded "trade" word have started to be paired together following the shooting guard's premature exit from the Las Vegas Summer League.
The Georgia Tech product played in just a single game, going 0-of-5 from the field while recording four assists and four turnovers. He wasn't particularly effective as a point guard and then left for a "prior commitment" in China, much to the chagrin of head coach Mike Woodson.
Apparently, Dolan didn't take too kindly to it either, as you can tell from Stephen A. Smith's dialogue with Dwight Howard in the video below.
Berman clarifies later in his article, though:
Smith addressed the video on his ESPN radio show yesterday and said he heard Dolan felt that way before the summer league began an doesn’t believe the Knicks owner still feels that way because Shumpert showed up in Las Vegas.
Well, let's assume that the unpredictable Knicks owner actually does think he should trade the young wing player. What could he get for him?
Let's break it down.
What Shumpert Brings to the Table
First and foremost, the shooting guard is an absolutely fantastic individual defender, even at such a young age. His flat-top might give him superpowers on that end of the court.
During the 2012-13 season, the Knicks used him at four different positions, although he defended point guards and power forwards only in strange situations. Shumpert spent the majority of his time corralling shooting guards and small forwards out on the perimeter, holding them to respective PERs of 15.0 and 16.1, according to 82games.com.
Unfortunately, this wasn't reflected in the team's overall defensive performance.
As shown by Basketball-Reference, the Knicks allowed 108.1 points per 100 possessions when Shumpert was on the court, but only 106.4 when he sat. Part of this result stems from the fact that he spent the majority of his time on the court playing with Carmelo Anthony and without Tyson Chandler, but it's still a reflection on his youth and relative inexperience.
Shumpert has the tools to be a premier perimeter defender, but he still has to figure out the whole concept of team defense. In particular, his ability to help and recover needs work. He's also a little too aggressive, which results in both defensive lapses and too many fouls.
Offensively, Shumpert's primary asset is his athleticism.
He improved dramatically as a shooter during his second professional season, drilling 40.2 percent of his 2.8 attempts per game from behind the arc, but he still thrives slashing to the basket. Throughout 2012-13, his shots were highly concentrated to the perimeter and right at the basket, the two most efficient areas of the court.
That speaks well to his potential improvement as a scorer.
As long as he's not used as a point guard, he'll be fine. The Knicks experimented with that throughout Summer League—the brief time he was there—and parts of the last season, and it never worked out too well.
Shumpert is a talented guy with the potential to become an elite "3 and D" player. He looks like he's going to be an upper-tier starter, but the Knicks organization seems to be treating him like a star.
In my book, that's an overaggressive evaluation.
What the Knicks Need
Right now, this is what the Knicks' depth chart looks like:
- Point guard: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Oscar Bellfield
- Shooting guard: Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Small forward: Carmelo Anthony, Metta World Peace
- Power forward: Andrea Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire, C.J. Leslie
- Center: Tyson Chandler
If Iman Shumpert was traded, there are three primary things the Knicks would be looking for in return.
They could stand to upgrade at point guard, as Raymond Felton is a serviceable option but by no means a player who should remain in the starting role for the foreseeable future. Power forward and center are options as well, since the three main players at the positions are all declining.
Carmelo Anthony is really the only player who must be with this team going forward. The rest are expendable if New York chooses to jump start the rebuilding process by acquiring some young talent.
If they're choosing to turn Shumpert into potential, then the position of the returning player (or players) won't really matter. However, they have to look at one of the three aforementioned spots if they're hoping to push past the other elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
Any Possible Trades?
The first possibility is brought up by Marc Berman:
When Shumpert had a slow start upon his return last January, the Knicks were listening to trade offers, with Phoenix offering Jared Dudley. Shumpert had a strong finish to the season and it would seem highly unlikely they will trade him—unless it brings them Boston’s Rajon Rondo.
Now the Knicks obviously aren't going to engage the Los Angeles Clippers in discussions centering around Shumpert and Jared Dudley, but you can be sure they'd listen if Rajon Rondo was on the table.
Rondo would be a fantastic fit in New York, moving the ball tremendously for the rest of the scorers and running a deadly pick-and-roll game with both Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire. He may very well be the piece that could push the Knicks over the top.
However, this is where that whole thing about the Knicks overvaluing Shumpert comes into play.
There's no way that Boston would think about giving up their franchise player for a talented wing player without guaranteed star potential. Danny Ainge wouldn't even hear out the Knicks before he hung up the phone.
A more realistic offer could come courtesy of the Detroit Pistons.
When general manager Joe Dumars let money burn a hole in his pocket and signed Josh Smith, he created one heck of a frontcourt logjam. Smith and Andre Drummond aren't going to be moved, but what if he offered Greg Monroe for Iman Shumpert?
Shumpert can capably play either shooting guard or small forward, thus filling a hole in the Detroit lineup. His outside shooting would be beneficial as well, and he'd allow Smoove and Drummond to start at their natural positions.
During the 2012-13 season, Monroe spent 11 percent of the Pistons' available minutes playing power forward, according to 82games.com. During that time, admittedly a small sample, he was actually more effective than when he was playing center.
That was particularly true on defense.
He could definitely play next to Tyson Chandler, but he could also slide back to his natural position when Chandler needed to catch his breath.
Other intriguing trades would involve sending Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Tristan Thompson or turning him into Goran Dragic courtesy of the Phoenix Suns. If the Knicks intend to deal Shumpert, that's the level of player they have to be looking at, not one like Rondo.
They probably don't plan on trading him, but hey, we can still talk about it. Expect to see the shooting guard in a Knicks uniform at the start of the 2013-14 season.
Just don't be too surprised if a slow start causes him to resurface in the rumors.