Are Shumpert and Dolan Feuding?

On Saturday evening, Frank Isola of the NY Daily News wrote an article about potential troubles facing the Knicks heading into next season.

The biggest threats are, of course, New York’s Eastern Conference rivals: Brooklyn’s mammoth upgrades, combined with expected improvement from Chicago, Indiana and Miami, pose a large road block for the Knicks in their quest to make the NBA Finals.

The other major issue cited by Isola concern the team’s roster construction and a pair of rather curious summer moves: The three-year contract given to J.R. Smith, despite a knee injury for which Earl immediately underwent surgery; and the mystifying trade / draft pick dump to secure the services of Andrea Bargnani.

The one thing that stood out, however, was this nugget from Isola regarding the issues Knicks Owner James Dolan and Iman Shumpert apparently have with one another.

I guess the only question is if Metta expires before Shumpert, one of the few Knicks that have value. Dolan is reportedly upset that Shumpert wasn’t interested in working with the summer league team and wants to trade him. Shumpert, I’ve heard, isn’t too crazy about the moves the Knicks had made which could further stunt his development.

As we’ve seen numerous times in the past, when you upset James Dolan, you’ve assumed the risk that you may not be a Knick for too much longer.

Dolan is fiercely loyal to some players — Allan Houston being the best example — and will do anything for those guys. But he’s also someone who has been known to holds a grudge for years. Just ask Isola, who has been dealing with one big cold shoulder for years now.

Like many of you, I have become a big Shumpert fan — particularly after his performance in the playoffs. I firmly believe he is ready to be a cornerstone player for this franchise.

Granted, there have been past rumors of the Knicks looking to trade Shumpert, including last season, when the there was talk of shipping Shump to Phoenix in exchange for Jared Dudley.

For his part, James Dolan has been very fortunate to have remained at the helm while so many other terrible New York owners have managed to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. At this point, it’s almost as if even a classic Dolan temper tantrum flies under the radar.

The biggest problem here is that, when Dolan gets sold on an idea, no matter how bad, he will move Heaven and Earth to make it happen. If he’s pissed off and looking to make a move? Watch out.

Of course, Iman himself had some thoughts on the article, and attempted to put to rest the rumors that he is somehow unhappy with the Knicks.

I know I’m not alone in hoping that the issues between Shumpert and Dolan work themselves out, and that the Knicks don’t get rid of Iman because of some petty squabble. Fact is, the Knicks have something in Shumpert that they’ve seldom enjoyed during Dolan’s tenure: a young, talented player under contract on the cheap for the next few years who has the potential to become a star.

What’s scary is that this could all be over in an instant, all because of their owner’s weird, recurring hangups. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Will Peace Give The Knicks A Chance?

Knicks Fans were keeping their eyes on the clock Sunday evening as it crept closer and closer to 5 pm — almost like when the clocked ticked down New York’s pick during the first round of the 1999 NBA Draft.

The anticipation, much like it was in 1999, was over whether or not the hometown kid was going to suit up for his hometown team.

As 5 pm came and went on Sunday, the Knicks were given a second chance. Another chance to make up for the one they blew 14 years ago when they picked a French Center named Frederic Weis over Ron Artest.

Artest, better known these days as Metta World Peace, cleared waivers on Sunday after being amnestied by the Lakers, and is now an unrestricted free agent.

(Side note, I became a fan of the St. Johns basketball team thanks in part to Artest, and I still find it weird that he is now Metta World Peace)

World Peace is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game — a big improvement over the numbers MWP put up during the lockout-shortened 2012 campaign.

Chirs Broussard of ESPN reported that World Peace wants to play of the Knicks, but stressed that the homecoming of the Queensbridge native is not 100% certain.

World Peace cleared waivers late Sunday afternoon, making him an unrestricted free agent. A source told ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst that the Knicks, who can offer him part of their taxpayer mid-level exception [roughly $1.7 million], already have reached out to the former Los Angeles Laker.

While World Peace has expressed through various channels that the Knicks are his first choice, he is also holding onto the Los Angeles Clippers and China’s Shanghai Sharks as possible teams to join next season.

World Peace spoke Sunday with Yao Ming about playing in Shanghai, a source said.

With options on the table for World Peace, will he make the choice to return home after the Knicks passed on that chance years ago?

I sure hope so.

The Knicks with Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position are a much better team than with him a small forward. This is almost irrefutable. If World Peace decides to sign with the Knicks, they’ll be addding a bone-fide small forward to a starting lineup that could be one of the best in the Eastern Conference.

And the idea that you could have a defensive trio of Shumpert, Chandler, and World Peace starting every night would certainly be music to Mike Woodson’s ears. Playing MWP at the three would allow Shumpert to work in the shooting guard spot, where he’s had by far the most success.

It also reduces the defensive responsibility for Melo, allowing them to match up better with teams that play bigger lineups.

Additionally, the presence of World Peace helps lengthen the bench, where guys like Smith, Stoudemire, Prigioni and Bargnani should all feel a bit less pressure.

But with the signing of MWP a distinct possibility and roster spots dwindling quickly, the two point guard starting system looks to be in serious jeopardy heading into next season — even though the trio of Prigioni, Felton, and Kidd put up some impressive tandem numbers, particularly down the stretch.

Insteady, it’s becoming more and more clear that the Knicks favor going with a traditional lineup, something the addition of World Peace makes even more likely.

Whatever the Knicks decide to do with their rotations, the team will have its work cut out for it: The Nets have gotten decidedly better, while the Bulls, Pacers and Heat aren’t going anywhere.

Indeed, the East will easily be as competitive as it has been in a decade, and the Knicks need to pull out all the stops to assure they remain part of that resurgence.

The process will likely take a few days, but it’s clear that the addition of World Peace to the Knicks– at what amounts to just a shade above the veteran’s minimum — entails too many positives for both parties to somehow not happen.

The again, what happened in 1999 was shocking, too. Let’s just hope World Peace doesn’t return the favor.

Welcome Back, Pablo

Pablo Prigioni was officially re-signed by the Knicks this morning to a new three year deal worth right around six million dollars.

His contract used up nearly half of the mini mid-level exception that the Knicks had allotted to them, basically spelling the end of the Chris Copeland era in New York.

Although in my opinion the Knicks will miss Copeland a lot, this move was the right one for the team moving forward.

With Jason Kidd’s retirement, the point guard depth was paper thin. That news, coupled with the possibility that Prigioni was not going to be re-signed, made the situation even more precarious.

The group of free agent point guards currently on the market is not exactly awe inspiring. And when you consider the kind of players who would prospectively take only half of the mini mid-level, the crop gets even worse.

You were not going to see a return of Nate Robinson, or bring in Will Bynum, for the money that Prigioni just signed for. What we did get, though, was a player whom the Knicks and their fans should be thrilled to have back.

Indeed, considering what Prigioni brings to the table for the offense, you can easily see how his value on the court could well exceed the value of his new deal. For example, the Knicks won Games three and six in Boston during the first round of the playoffs thanks in large part to great starts that put the Celtics in an early deficit — starts in which the three point shooting of Prigioni was key.

Prigioni shot 43.3% from three during the playoffs, including 7-12 from deep — good for 58% — in the two aforementioned games against the Celtics.

In New York’s playoff wins, Prigioni shot 13-22 (59%) for 37 points with 16 assists. And while he only played an average 17 minutes during that stretch, Prigioni still put up six points and almost three assists a game off the bench.

Not to mention, of course, that when Mike Woodson finally scrapped the Jason Kidd-in-the-starting-lineup idea and put in Prigioni, the team went on a 13 game winning streak, finishing the season 16-2. When you add winning the first three games of the Boston series, the team went 19-2 overall.

The ball movement, and offense as a whole, simply flow better with Prigioni on the court. Contrastingly, the offense — at times anyway =– seemed to be stuck in neutral with Felton at the controls.

One of the points raised by Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal was the marked improvement in the three point shooting from Anthony during the playoffs when Prigioni was on the floor.

He tweeted that Anthony shot 43% from three when Prigioni was on the court with him and 26% when they were not on the floor together.

Additionally, his defense also was as pesky as anyone could have hoped for. For a 35 year old, he had a way of annoying anyone he was guarding, and became incredibly adept at stealing the inbounds pass after a made basket.

As Raymond Felton once said about Prigioni, “You’ve ever had like a gnat at a barbecue that just annoys you? Pablo is annoying on defense.”

With the Knicks more than likely going back to a traditional lineup and eschew the two point guard system they used last year — something not everyone will be happy about — Prigs will have a chance to rest more, which could be key if the Knicks hope to wield their depth for a deeper playoff run.

The Knicks absolutely need one more point guard — maybe Aaron Brooks or Toure Murry from the summer league squad? — to round out the point guard position, but the return of Pablo Prigioni needed to happen. He’s the kind of veteran player off the bench the Knicks will need to have; someone that can come in and run the offense to give Felton a breather. He keeps up the flow with ball movement and on defense he can give other guards an issue with his quick hands.

With a little more than three million dollars to spend to help improve the team this summer, the 1.5 million the Knicks used to bring back Prigioni was a great way to start.