The New York Knicks, now at a crossroads, find themselves at the trade deadline with a few options, although Carmelo Anthony seems to think that the Knicks are fine as currently constructed, and would be wrong in trading anyone.
Anthony was commenting directly on the rumors surrounding the Knicks' guard Iman Shumpert, who recently returned from ACL surgery and is struggling to get back to where he was a season ago.
Shumpert is shooting just 34 percent and scoring five points a game in the 12 games since he's come back, but he's been a fine threat from three, shooting 41 percent, while his defense should work its way back to previous levels.
Carmelo defended Shumpert, and as a result the team as a whole when talking to the New York Post yesterday.
He shouldn’t be worrying about that. The Knicks shouldn’t even be in trade talks right now.
Coach Mike Woodson expanded a bit on the trade rumors, backing Shumpert while explaining that a lot of what happens is out of his control at times.
I don’t think you can ever tell a player he’s not, that’s kind of out of my hands. If owners came to me and said we have to do a deal, then you do the deal. I sat him down and I told him. He knows how I feel about him. We show him love and we tell him he’s a big part of what we’re doing. Those are just trade rumors.
Both Woodson and Anthony showed confidence in their team, while giving a huge vote of support to a struggling second-year player who needs every boost he can get.
However, were those comments just that, or was it complete nonsense designed to give forth the façade of camaraderie?
On the surface it seems as if any player on a relatively good playoff team would do whatever it takes to keep themselves out of the headlines, looking to avoid anything that might upset the rest of the team, or even the front office.
In this case though, it seems as if Carmelo is right on point with his assessment of the Knicks.
Are they a team that could challenge for an NBA Championship this year? I've still got my reservations about that.
However, the way the Knicks are built and their ability to make many changes into the future, it seems any kind of trade would have to either immediately improve them, or give them enough salary cap flexibility over the next few years to alter their team in some way.
Trading Iman Shumpert, presumably to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that would bring back Jared Dudley and a first round pick, would hurt them two-fold.
First of all, however much I like Dudley, he's a more expensive player and not the guy who would bring the sort of impact defensively that we've seen Shumpert bring. Second, receiving a draft pick is nice, but they hit on Shumpert late in the draft in 2011.
They would be more or less hitting the reset button as far as their young players go, and they would be getting rid of a player who has proven that he can play in New York City, which isn't something everybody in the league can do.
Even if you are a fan of the Shumpert-Dudley deal, it turns Shumpert's $1.7 million contract next year into a $4.25 million deal of Dudley's making it nearly impossible for the Knicks to avoid the luxury tax.
That isn't a problem in terms of the Knicks paying a few bucks into the tax poll, but that does take away a bit of their flexibility.
Luxury tax paying teams will be hit for every dollar over $70.307 million that they spend, but they can use the full $5 million mid-level exception if they don't exceed the tax by more than $4 million.
After a few million dollar bump next season, depending on the BRI increase, the Knicks should be able to have a payroll of around $76-77 million and be able to use the full mid-level exception. Otherwise known as what they've got on the books right now.
If the Knicks swap Shumpert for Dudley, that dream dies and they're stuck with the taxpayer exception, which is just $3 million.
Making a trade will either force them into even more payroll, or it will make them miss out on whatever improvement from Shumpert that's still to come, or possibly even both.