Even when the New York Knicks get it right, they get it wrong.
Iman Shumpert has long been on the outskirts of New York's future. Since entering the league in 2011, he's repeatedly been felled by injuries, all the while roaming in and out of favor with Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and owner James Dolan.
Despite everything, he remains a Knick, though not for the team's lack of trying. Attempts to trade him in light of sluggish progress, secret surgeries and an insatiable lust for OPP (other people's players) have been frequent and well-documented.
Ahead of the Feb. 20 trade deadline proved to be no different. Reports surfaced daily about the Knicks' feverish efforts to rid themselves of their only two-way player. But when the 3 p.m. ET deadline came to pass, Shumpert was still there.
Not even an inability to move him now can stop the Knicks from making headlines, though. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, they rejected a potential trade that would have landed Shumpert with the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a 2014 first-round draft pick:
Granted, Wade and Crawford light up a lot of teams, but the fact is that, outside of starting 2-guard Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City provides very little resistance in the backcourt. That's why the Thunder were hoping to land Iman Shumpert before last Thursday's trade deadline.
Even after Shumpert suffered a strained left MCL in a Knicks loss last Wednesday, Oklahoma City was willing to part with this season's first-round draft pick to land the Knicks shooting guard, according to sources with knowledge of the trade discussions. The Knicks, however, refused to do the deal because they weren't getting a current player in return who could help them make a push for this season's Eastern Conference playoffs. At the end of the day, they deemed Shumpert more valuable than the 28th pick (or whatever low pick OKC gets) of the draft, sources said.
The Knicks' priority all along in trading Shumpert was to attach Raymond Felton's contract to the deal and get a solid point guard in return.
Grantland's Zach Lowe immediately confirmed Broussard's report:
Here's a player they've actively been trying to trade since before they forgot what winning and defense were. And there were the Thunder, waiting with open arms, preparing to make New York a part of this summer's upcoming draft.
But, you know, Knicks.
Truth be told, the decision to retain Shumpert is uncharacteristic of the Knicks, and slightly admirable. Their propensity for devaluing young talent and first-round draft picks in general is maddening. It's nice to see general manager Steve Mills and Dolan show some restraint and embrace logic.
That is, until we find out that's not what they did. Not really.
Per Broussard, the Knicks slighted Oklahoma City, only to make a push for the Los Angeles Clippers' Darren Collison:
While Shumpert's injury did not deter the Thunder, it did kill the Knicks' hopes of sending him to Los Angeles. Clippers coach Doc Rivers really wanted Shumpert, sources say, and Rivers was willing to do a deal that would have sent Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Byron Mullens and two second-round picks to New York for Shumpert, Felton and Beno Udrih. But Clippers owner Donald Sterling and others within the organization were hesitant to bet on Shumpert after seeing him go down in Wednesday's game at New Orleans, according to sources.
Ridding themselves of Felton's contract seems like a no-brainer now, after he was arrested on multiple gun charges, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley. The thing is, neither Dolan nor Mills has a crystal ball. They didn't know this was coming.
What the Knicks were essentially attempting to do was trade Felton, a defensive disaster and an inconsistent shooter on a semi-reasonable contract, and a former first-round pick for a point guard in Collison who lost playing time to the ancient Mike James with the Dallas Mavericks last season.
Now that's the Knicks we know and despise with all our heart and soul love.
For all Shumpert's struggles, he's still a valuable prospect. And if you're going to move him, you do so for something equally or more valuable.
Trading for Oklahoma City's late first-round pick would make more sense than dealing for Collison and essential fillers. That pick gives the Knicks access to the deepest draft class in 10 years and could be used as part of a bigger trade package this summer.
This isn't to say the Knicks should have accepted the Thunder's offer. If you ask me, they're better off with him. Or rather, a normal functioning team is better off with him.
The Knicks rank 26th in defensive efficiency, but are allowing 7.8 points per 100 possessions fewer with Shumpert on the floor, per Basketball-Reference. That makes him an immediate asset when healthy, erratic shooting and all.
Instead, the Knicks have put themselves in a situation fated to end in disappointment. Shumpert is still in town, but Broussard says his camp wants out. When a young player wants to flee one of the league's most seductive markets, it says something.
Moving him this summer is now the obvious course of action. Once the season ends, leading into the draft, Shumpert's going to be dangled to anyone who's listening. That's going to happen.
Problem is, the Knicks clearly aren't equipped to move him for the right return.
Even if Shumpert returns from a sprained MCL and plays out of his mind, his market value stands to decline. He's slated for restricted free agency in 2015, making him a potential rental for any interested teams not prepared to offer him another contract.
Think the Thunder or another contingent will still be offering a first-rounder then? Think again.
But let's say they are. Or let's say the market for his services is vast. Can the Knicks be trusted to make the right decision?
That's a funny question. And a sad inquiry. Because they can't.
Two options were placed in front of New York just before the trade deadline, and it chose to chase the inferior one. Felton's run-in with the law notwithstanding, the Clippers actually did them a favor getting out of the way, because the Knicks wouldn't get out of their own.
And we're supposed to believe the Knicks can find a better deal this summer, when Shumpert is arguably harder to trade? Yeah, right.
"This season has been more frustrating than my being out 8 months," Shumpert said on Twitter.
No kidding. Not only is he still battling injuries and fluctuating production, but the Knicks continue to devalue his potential in lieu of actually trying to properly develop him.
Sadly, that's par for the course for this franchise. Shumpert is brimming with promise, but the Knicks are the Knicks, incapable of honing young talent, destined to smear whatever return they can net or relationship they could have with one of their most valuable assets.
Salary information via ShamSports.
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