Iman Shumpert fans thought they’d dodged a bullet when the Denver Nuggets reportedly said “thanks, but no thanks” to New York’s alleged Shump-for-Kenneth Faried trade proposal. But like a mind-numbing Twitter discussion involving Jeremy Lin, rumors of Shumpert’s soon-to-be-traded status just won’t quit.
They should, though. The really, really should
To be clear, I do not hold this view because I am particularly enamored by Shumpert or his game. I do not fear that Iman is going to develop into the player many think he can be in some other uniform. I am not even overly concerned that New York’s Helter Skelter management team will get once again get hosed by some other team’s GM. No, because even if any or all of those dreadful scenarios come to fruition, trading Iman Shumpert now is a bad idea.
1) The timing is terrible. Generally speaking, in-season NBA trades happen in the weeks leading up to the February trading deadline. Right now, teams are busy assessing their rosters and integrating new players, not looking to make rash changes. By mid-January and into early-February, general managers will have a better grasp of their needs and their team’s ceilings. As such, more players will be available.
2) The Knicks’ needs are not yet clear. Various reports suggest that New York wants to upgrade its frontcourt or get point guard help in any Shumpert deal, but they already have a pretty substantial frontcourt upgrade pending the return of Tyson Chandler. At point guard, yes, Raymond Felton has been less-than-stellar thus far. But he’s also hurt — he has been hampered by a lingering hamstring injury – and the Knicks already have three other point guards on the current roster. Maybe, and I am just brainstorming here, before New York gives up one of its only legitimate assets in a trade for, say, Greivis Vazquez, Mike Woodson should take an extended look at Pablo Prigioni, or give Beno Udrih or Toure Murry some run.
3) The salary cap makes it particularly difficult for the Knicks to upgrade. New York is well over the cap, so any player they bring back in a straight-up deal for Shumpert needs to be making a salary close to the $2.6 million that the Knicks’ third-year guard is on the books for. Not surprisingly, the universe of players making under $3 million who are also capable of helping the Knicks is pretty small. (That’s one reason why the Faried rumors made theoretical sense – as a member of the same draft class, his contract is very similar to Shumpert’s.)
4) There might be an unseen, yet better trading opportunity just over the horizon. Right now, Shumpert is basically the Knicks’ only tradable asset. But that won’t be true next summer when the expiring contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Chandler and Andrea Bargnani will be valued differently by other teams. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use Shumpert in a deal with one of those expiring contracts? Wouldn’t Shump plus Bargnani or Chandler’s expiring deal fetch more than Shumpert alone?
Sure, the Knicks can do something drastic after their 3-7 start, and trade a solid young player who just happens to be one of the few capable defenders on the team. That would be easy — it’s the kind of move they always seem to make. But if I were running the show– call me, maybe, Dolan? — I’d let things around the league shake out over the next 60 days or so before risking yet another unforced fracnhise error.