Not too long ago, the New York Knicks were a joke. Now, they're just sad.
Rampant trade rumors coalesced with a deplorable 3-6 record are already threatening the livelihood of their locker room, and now, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, the front office is exerting pressure on head coach Mike Woodson to bench Iman Shumpert in favor of Kenyon Martin:
Until then, the coach is safe, but the word from above is to tinker with the starting lineup, which likely will include shifting soon-to-be-traded Iman Shumpert to the bench and likely promoting veteran tough guy Kenyon Martin. The move allows Anthony to play small forward while placing a rebounding and defensive-minded forward next to Andrea Bargnani, a non-rebounding, defensively challenged forward/center.
Only the Knicks, whose head honcho, James Dolan, seems to feed off negative publicity, would bench a 23-year-old Shumpert in favor of an almost-36-year-old Kenyon Martin who has yet to play more than 18 minutes in a game this season.
Andrea Bargnani at center puts the Knicks at a defensive disadvantage daily, but Shumpert is their only two-way player. Look up and down their roster, and you'll find no one capable of consistently defending and putting points on the board. Not Carmelo Anthony; not J.R. Smith.
Shumpert's potential move to the bench, however, isn't completely unexpected. Isola reported earlier that the Knicks were shopping Shumpert to anyone who would listen, including the Boston Celtics, in the hope of landing Rajon Rondo.
Both ESPN's Chris Broussard and Isola shot down such rumors, making it clear the Celtics weren't biting on a deal built around Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Shumpert.
With Boston unlikely to play ball, those familiar with the Knicks should fully expect them to pull the trigger on a Dolan-sanctioned but logically moronic trade sooner rather than later.
Blatant disregard for Shumpert's internal value aside, inserting Martin into the starting lineup moves Anthony back to small forward, when he's best suited at the 4.
Small ball helped the Knicks win 54 games and the Atlantic Division in 2012-13, so deviating from a proven blueprint just because Tyson Chandler is on the shelf makes little sense. Panicking nine games into the season is equally as silly.
But such is life at Madison Square Garden, where Dolan cannot seem to let his coach coach and his players play without inflicting his crippling will upon them.
*All stats accurate as of Nov. 18, 2013.