The NBA trade deadline can be a bittersweet affair, especially for those who find themselves suddenly on the move.
But the same can be said for players who end up staying put as well.
Just ask the New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert. Hours after suffering a sprained MCL during his team’s 98-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night, Shumpert’s name was bandied about in both of New York’s proposed trade deals.
The other—which very nearly went down in the final hour—centered around a swap of point guards Raymond Felton and Los Angeles Clippers backup Darren Collison, with Shumpert and Matt Barnes being the other two principles, according to Marc Stein and Ian Begley of ESPN.com.
Now, after dodging a pair of deadline bullets, details are beginning to emerge regarding just how unhappy Shumpert has been in New York. From Berman:
Shumpert, according to the source, prefers not to play the small-forward position in the team’s two point-guard alignment. But especially with Andrea Bargnani injured, [Knicks coach] Woodson wants to roll with a three-guard unit to keep Carmelo Anthony at power forward.
That’s what we in the industry call an “impasse.”
The Knicks have played their best basketball with Carmelo Anthony at power forward. That, coupled with New York needing J.R. Smith’s bench scoring, has demanded that Woodson rely on a starting unit featuring two point guards—Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton—and Shumpert at the 3.
Which, according to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal, has worked rather splendidly so far:
NYKs starting 5 -- Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert, Melo & Chandler -- is outscoring opponents by 20 pts per 100 plays, the best rating in NBA.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 18, 2014
Among five-man lineups that have played 100 minutes or more, the Knicks' starting five is the most efficient in the league. Which is crazy.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) February 18, 2014
With Shumpert expected to be out for the next two weeks, Woodson would be wise to at least consider bringing him off the bench upon his return—at his preferred shooting guard position, perhaps.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Woodson has rolled the dice on J.R. Smith as starter. From the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, Woodson said earlier this year:
Let somebody else get the sixth man if he deserves to get that starting job. Last year was last year. He’s capable of defending. That’s the only question I have — are you going to start the game with the mind-set of defending, too? I know you can score, if you win that starting job. I know Iman can defend. He’s still searching for his offense.
Whatever happens, it’s clear that "Shump" and the Knicks have seen better days.