Could an Iman Shumpert Trade Be the Jolt NY Knicks Need to Get Back on Track?

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Could an Iman Shumpert Trade Be the Jolt NY Knicks Need to Get Back on Track?
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Knicks have a Tyson Chandler-sized hole in their defense, and worse yet, they have limited means to fill it. 

Kenyon Martin will bang, and Cole Aldrich will clean the glass, but they provide only fragments of what Chandler offers on the whole. Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani can score effectively (occasionally), but they'll give up more than their fair share on the other end.

Simply put, this just wasn't an injury the Knicks were designed to survive, and now there could be a scramble to find a remedy.


The Iman Shumpert Case

Iman Shumpert has been tied to trade rumors basically since the day he started to produce in New York, but now you'll likely hear his name pop up more than ever before. 

And remember, we've already heard it a lot before. Last season around the deadline, the rumor was Shumpert for Jared Dudley. Then it was Shumpert for J.J. Redick. Then it was Shumpert for Luke Ridnour, and well, you get the idea.

The way the Knicks built their roster only fuels the speculation.

This year's first-round draft pick, Tim Hardaway, lurks as a reliable backup option on the wing. J.R. Smith, for all his faults and flaws, was locked up this offseason and is a major part of the offense. Pablo Prigioni deserves playing time wherever he can get it, and guys like Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih need minutes as well. 

That could make Shumpert the odd man out on the wing, even if he might be the best overall player in that grouping.

Of course, Shumpert being shopped could lead directly back to owner James Dolan, as well. It was reported this offseason that Dolan was upset with Shumpert for not working with the Knicks' summer league team, and the anger may travel both ways, as Shumpert may not have been happy with the way the roster was built. 

If the losses start to pile up, we could probably guess who the scapegoat on the roster may be.

It's important to note that before December 15th rolls around, the Knicks only have seven players on the roster eligible for trade: Stoudemire, Bargnani, Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Hardaway and Shumpert

Out of that group, Felton, Hardaway and Shumpert feel like the only movable pieces, whether because of need (Chandler, Anthony) or exorbitant contracts (Stoudemire, Bargnani) making the other players difficult to trade.

Felton, of course, is on a fantastic contract ($3.6 million) now and moving forward, and rookie-scale guys like Hardaway are the best value deals in the NBA

For all those reasons combined, that probably leaves Shumpert as the most likely trade candidate the Knicks have, at least until they are able to trade away free agents signed this offseason after December 15th.

Of course, we probably can't rule out the Knicks dangling a future first-round draft pick in a trade, either. Due to the Stepien Rule, the Knicks can't deal a first-round pick until 2018, but we know this is a franchise that hasn't valued the draft at all in the past.

Helping the defense by trading your best perimeter defender may be a little counter-productive, but trading from a position of strength to improve the team's chances this season in a contract-year for Anthony may override any other logic.

The Knicks hitched their wagon to Anthony long ago, and it will be interesting to see if there's a sense of urgency to win now at the cost of forfeiting even more future assets. 


Potential Returns

If the Knicks do decide to move Shumpert, there should be no shortage of suitors. Shumpert is the type of "3 and D" guy that are always in high demand, especially when they come cheap. Shumpert's rookie deal runs through next year, so this wouldn't be much of a financial commitment for a contender or a young team to take on.

Problem is, matching salaries with just Shumpert in a deal can be an issue, primarily because he only makes $1.7 million this season and the Knicks don't have additional salaries they can trade before December 15th. 

That makes the logistics of a deal tricky, but if the Knicks trade Shumpert to fill the hole left by Chandler's injury, they'll have to find a low-salary option, and soon.

That explains why the idea of trading for a guy like Kenneth Faried would be floated. Faried is on the same rookie scale deal as Shumpert, and there have been murmurs from Denver that he might be available. Faried wouldn't help protect the rim, but he could gobble up any misses the defense would be fortunate enough to cause.

Still, a swap of Faried for Shumpert is hard to envision, primarily because Denver has a lot of talent on the wing.

Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller are all young guys with potential, and the Nuggets are already paying big money to Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. With the injury to JaVale McGee, it's hard to see the Nuggets weakening the frontcourt further.

Maybe a future lottery-protected first round would help grease the wheels, but that's a pretty penny to pay for a guy who doesn't necessarily fit or fill the primary needs in the frontcourt.

Looking elsewhere, if the Houston Rockets wanted to add another perimeter defender to the roster, trading a guy like Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith or Terrence Jones might not be a bad idea. While Smith would be the best fit in New York as a true center, Shumpert should have a higher trade value than all three of those players.

If the Knicks valued draft picks, maybe there would be a deal to be had here. Still, the prospect of New York dealing with Rockets GM Daryl Morey should probably be more horrifying to Knicks fans than Andrea Bargnani playing starter's minutes.


Prediction

With limited other options available, at least before December 15th, the Knicks might be wise to wait out Chandler's injury and hope he can stay healthy going forward.

Shumpert is a valuable trade chip, and so are any future first round picks, but the Knicks would need to find an ace frontcourt defender making less than $2 million a season that's available for trade. Those types of players don't grow on trees. 

It would be prudent for the Knicks to prepare for the possibility of Anthony departing after this season, and trading young assets and future picks works against that line of thinking.

Should the Knicks try to trade Iman Shumpert?

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The Knicks are in win-now mode for Anthony, but at the end of the day, trusting the extra money and the market they can offer might be smarter than selling off future assets just to keep a high seed.

Despite what will almost certainly be a porous defense without Chandler, the Knicks should be able to maintain a lower playoff spot in his absence. The bottom of the Eastern Conference is a bit of a mess, and Anthony should snap out of his shooting slump at any time now. 

For now, the timing of Chandler's injury and the inability to match salaries for an established player are roadblocks to any Knicks trade. Everything can change in a New York minute, but at least for the next month, Shumpert should stay in a Knicks jersey. 

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