The New York Knicks have been reportedly looking to trade Iman Shumpert for much of the 2013-2014 NBA season. Now, it appears that the Los Angeles Lakers have become contenders to land the third-year player.
According to ESPN, L.A. has expressed interest in acquiring Shumpert. The team reportedly called New York to do their due diligence in regards to the shooting guard.
Through 23 games, the Lakers (11-12) are 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Even though Kobe Bryant recently returned and was signed to a two-year contract extension, L.A. could use some more help in the backcourt. Steve Blake just went down with an injury, joining fellow point guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar on the sidelines.
Shumpert has been at the center of trade rumors for a few weeks. One report had the Knicks thinking about sending him to the Denver Nuggets for Kenneth Faried. Shumpert has been hailed as one of the best young defenders in league, but he's had a difficult start to the season. He's averaging just 6.6 points per game, and has totaled just eight points in his last five games combined.
In addition to Shumpert, the report states that the Lakers are interested in Tyson Chandler. The center has only played four games because of a knee injury, but he should return to the lineup shortly. Chandler was named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2011-2012 season, and he’s under contract through 2015.
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If Chandler were to be sent out West, Pau Gasol would likely be the main piece coming back to the Big Apple. Gasol’s numbers have dipped in the past few years, but making the deal would free up salary cap space for the Knicks in the summer. The Knicks are 7-16 through their first 23 games. Owner James Dolan had hopes of competing for a title at the start of the season, but that no longer seems like a realistic goal.
The Knicks not shopping Chandler, but several teams have contacted them about him. In order for a team to convince the Knicks to give up their starting center, they might have to agree to take back J.R. Smith. The Knicks signed Smith to a three-year contract in the offseason, but he has been a major disappointment. The defending Sixth Man of the Year missed the first five games because of a suspension and is shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.
The Knicks are near the bottom of the East, but still have a chance to get one of the top seeds in the conference. They trail the Boston Celtics by three games in the Atlantic Division. Chandler has proven to be one of the most important players on the team, perhaps more so than Carmelo Anthony, and New York could become the favorites in the division once he gets back on the court.
Anthony is a free agent in the summer, and the Knicks could look to clear cap space if they fear he could sign with another team. That isn’t probable, though, since New York can offer him a lot more money than any other team.