At the start of the 2013 NBA offseason, the New York Knicks shook up their roster, sending Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and future draft picks to the Toronto Raptors, in exchange for Andrea Bargnani. Now, it appears that the club came close to making another big deal.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, team owner James Dolan recently wanted to trade Iman Shumpert. Video of an off-air conversation between Smith and Dwight Howard has landed on YouTube. In the three-minute clip, Smith explains to the Houston Rockets new center that Dolan had plans of moving Shumpert.
“And by the way, Dolan was ready to trade him (Shumpert) because he didn’t want to work out in the summer league,” Smith told Howard before he began an interview for ESPN. “Dolan’s talking about trading him. I said, ‘Trade who? You better hold onto that boy. You better not lose Iman Shumpert. That boy can play.’”
Smith pre-empted the revelation by explaining to Howard that Shumpert was the only Knicks player under 27 years old to play in the team’s playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. Conversely, Indiana had just one player over 27 take the court in the second-round matchup.
Ultimately, the Knicks decided not to trade the 23-year-old. Shumpert has been playing with New York in the summer league in Las Vegas. The league is usually reserved for recent draft picks and players that are looking to make a roster. The Knicks, however, encouraged the guard to compete in the offseason games and build on his strong finish to the 2012-2013 season.
After the Knicks added Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler in 2010 and 2011, the team has become very limited in the moves they can make. The most likely way for New York to make another big acquisition would be to deal Shumpert. After two years in the NBA, he’s already considered a top on-ball defender and still has room to become a much better player.
Rajon Rondo may the biggest name that can currently be had in a trade. There have been rumors that NBA teams have contacted the Boston Celtics about the availability of the point guard, following the organization’s decision to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. Rondo would fit in well with the Knicks, and Anthony has, according to the New York Post, lobbied for the Knicks to acquire the one-time champion. There have been no reports, however, of New York trying to trade for Rondo.
In 2013-2014, Shumpert is expected to have a much bigger role on the Knicks. He missed the first three months of last year with a torn ACL, and could be asked to be a top option on offense, now that he’s healthy and J.R. Smith just had knee surgery.
“I think I can be [a secondary scorer],’’ Shumpert said in June. “I’ve always accepted all challenges. I’d take that as another challenge.’’
With Shumpert agreeing to play in the summer league, it appears that New York isn’t looking to trade him anytime soon. He is expected to start in the Knicks backcourt with Raymond Felton next season.