Many within the New York Knicks organization view Iman Shumpert as the future of the franchise. He's athletic, quick, a slasher, he can finish at the rim and he's a very good defensive player. Those same attributes made him a popular trade target for other teams leading into the NBA trade deadline Wednesday afternoon. While the Knicks did trade Ronnie Brewer to the Oklahoma City Thunder and sign free agent power forward Kenyon Martin, it could be argued that keeping Shumpert was the biggest move made at the deadline.
Iman Shumpert is a 6'5", 220 pound shooting guard/small forward from Oak Park, Illinois. He played for Georgia Tech from 2008-11 and was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.
He was named to the ACC All-Tournament Second Team in 2010, the All-ACC Second Team in 2011 and the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2012.
Rumors had Shumpert being traded everywhere from the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley, to the Orlando Magic for J.J. Redick, to the Atlanta Hawks in a package for Josh Smith. There is little doubt that multiple teams called to check on Shumpert's availability. However, the Knicks are now claiming they were never actively shopping Shumpert.
Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com reports Knicks GM Glen Grunwald never wanted to trade Shumpert.
“There were no trade discussions with Shump,” he said. “I don’t want to go into any details but as we’ve said many times, Shump’s a key part of our future and we’re happy to have him back. He’s had a great rehab and is obviously coming back from a difficult injury. Maybe he’s not at 100 percent yet, but we’re very optimistic that with his work ethic and attitude that he will be back to his old self very shortly.”
On the Shumpert trade rumors, Grunwald added: “I’m sure a lot of teams are interested in him, but no more than the New York Knicks.”
One thing we know is that Shumpert's return from off-season knee surgery hasn't gone as smoothly as the team had hoped it might. He's struggled defensively, hasn't quite found his comfort zone offensively and hasn't shown the lateral quickness he had before injuring his knee in the 2012 playoffs.
However, through all the rumors flying every which way and the deadline approaching Shumpert did nothing but work hard to improve himself and his game. During the All-Star break while others were partying and relaxing Shumpert was watching film and running conditioning drills.
He truly wants to be the best at what he does and although it's clear he is very happy to be a member of the New York Knicks he found comfort in the fact that even though he couldn't control if he'd be traded or not at least other teams had interest him.
Steve Popper of NorthJersey.com reports Shumpert stayed positive throughout all the trade rumors.
Iman Shumpert has been trying to wait out today’s trade deadline by rationalizing the procession of rumors that have floated his name around the NBA. If he was in the rumors, that meant someone wanted him.
He remained a long shot to be dealt, with coach Mike Woodson again asserting that the second-year guard wasn’t going anywhere.
"That’s the same way Woody broke it down," Shumpert said. "He said, ‘At least people want you.’ "
The fact is, It’s way too early to give up on Shumpert. He's only a second-year player and he's easily the Knicks’ best perimeter defender. Trading Shumpert would have only weakened an already struggling defense.
On top of that, it's only been about a month since he returned to the court. Shumpert's still not 100 percent following his knee surgery and we're yet to see the best of him this season.
Last season Shumpert was a very fluid player with elite lateral movement. That is the exact thing that his knee injury affects so it will take time to fully recover but it will continue to improve as time goes along. Maybe the most important thing is getting his confidence back.
Once Shumpert breaks through the mental barrier of being able to push off with his leg and move the way he wants to we're likely to see the old Shumpert back on the floor. The Knicks need Shumpert to do less chasing and get more defensive stops. In order to do that he needs to improve his footwork, balance and timing. However, that should all improve with time.
If the Knicks want to be a factor this season they need Shumpert to improve his play. He doesn't need to be a big scoring threat. He needs to be the strong defensive player they know he can be. Once his instincts take over and he stops thinking so much, he’ll be able to return to last season's form.
While Shumpert clearly plays a pivotal role in this season's success for the Knicks keeping him wasn't just about this year. Keeping him was about the years to come. Shumpert has star potential. While he'll need to improve his jump shot he can drive to the basket like Russell Westbrook and play defense like Gary Payton. It would be short sighted to throw those attributes away.