Roundtable: Knicks Trade Shump and J.R.

[This round table was conducted mid-day Tuesday. As of the scheduled published date, none of the players the Knicks received have been officially waived, so some of us went on that assumption. As more information comes in, we will report on it here or in the comments below.]

Of all the tangible assets in the trade (Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk, Lance Thomas, and a 2019 second-round draft choice from Cleveland) which will be the most useful for the Knicks?

Kurylo: As per Alex Kirk’s Draft Express page “The downside, however, is that his 13.6% body fat ranked second highest among prospects invited to the NBA Draft Combine and his 48th place finish in our Athletic Testing Composite Rating supports our past assertion that he is a below average athlete.” So he’s Eddy Curry without any natural ability. Add the fact that his D-League numbers are pedestrian at best. Unless someone gets this guy doing Crossfit, he’s a complete waste. None of Lance’s Thomas’ stats [] show him to be anything special either. So if he’s a worthy defender, that’s pretty much what you’re getting.

That leaves us with Amundson and the pick. Lou’s per minute stats are OK (10.1 reb/36, 2.0 blk/36, 1.0 stl/36) although his efficiency leaves a little to be desired (49.0% ts%). However he’s a considerable upgrade over Quincy Acy (a comparison of the two) and as much as I’d like to say the 2nd round pick, I’ll stick with Amundson.

Cronin: They’re supposedly waiving everyone but Lance Thomas (and possibly even him, as well), so I guess I’d say the second round pick by default.

Ephus: None of the above.

Gibberman: I’m going to wait until the Knicks make the 2019 second round pick to definitely answer this.

Udwary: The most useful asset going to the Knicks will be the roster spots that open up when they cut the players they get from the Cavs. There is definitely some intriguing players in the D-League right now that Phil might want to take a look at. Seth Curry is absolutely killing it, taking 7.7 3pt shots a game and hitting them at a 53% clip. Would you rather have a solid rebounding center who can shoot the midrange jumper, and still score efficiently, so that we can keep Jason Smith on the bench forever? Take a look at the season JaMychal Green is having for Austin. There is definitely potential diamonds out there, so hopefully we look at some of these young guys to fill roster spots.

What does this trade tell us about Phil Jackson?

Kurylo: Well it certainly doesn’t prove that Jackson is a genius from a talent perspective. But perhaps this was a trade that’s more about subtraction than addition. Removing J.R. from the team perhaps sends a message to the league that the Knicks won’t suffer fools (anymore). As a coach, the Zen Master was always keen on Jedi mind tricks through various means. Perhaps he’s found a new medium?

To go in a weird direction for a second, take the New York Jets and the upcoming draft. If New York were to take the problematic Jameis Winston with their top pick, you can easily see a future where the QB causes more problems for Gang Green than he solves. Now if it were the Giants, taking Winston (likely in a latter round) would make sense. Why? Because Big Blue has a solid organization that can withstand and perhaps mold Winston into a solid citizen. However the Jets don’t have the reputation (or more importantly strong management backbone) to take such a risk.

So what I’m trying to say is perhaps this is Jackson’s first step into turning the Knicks into a more respectable organization.

Cronin: It seems pretty clearly that Jackson’s make or break moment will be what he will do this offseason with the cap space he is collecting. So I don’t think that this trade says a whole lot about Jackson one way or the other except that he has now made three real trades (not counting the luxury tax move of Travis Outlaw to open up a roster spot for Travis Wear) and they’ve all been…just okay. It would be nice to see a Knick trade be a clear win for once, but I can’t really begrudge Jackson much for that.

What he does this offseason will be the real test.

Ephus: To me, it says that Phil Jackson has no special place in his heart for CAA and its clients. That is a good thing.

Udwary: It tells us that we should temper our expectations a bit on the magic of Phil Jackson. As Knicks fans, we are too used to lopsided trades (although we’ve always been on the wrong side of them). This was a realistic return for the value we were sending out. I don’t think we should complain too loudly about that considering the trades we have been accustomed to.

On Basketball Reference’s Knicks page, I predicted “Cole Aldrich, this is your year.” Now that Aldrich is pretty much our defacto center for 2015, is this Cole’s year?

Kurylo: Oh God Yes!

Seriously though, here is Aldrich’s per-36 stats over the last 10 games (9 starts):
11.0 reb, 2.6 ast,1.6 atl,1.9 blk, 2.6 to, 3.9 pf,15.2 pts, 56.3% ts%

That’s good enough to be an NBA starter, no? Honestly, I’d like to see what the defense is like with Aldrich/Amundson together on the floor. I’ll work on my Candy Crush skills while the team is on offense.

Cronin: I worry that it might be so much his year that the Knicks might find themselves in a difficult situation regarding retaining Aldrich for next season. They have Early Bird Rights for Aldrich, but that only allows them to exceed the cap up to the Mid-Level Exception. The way Aldrich has been playing, he might get an offer for more than that and since the Knicks are definitely not cutting into their precious, precious cap space to bring Aldrich back, there is a possibility that Aldrich might play himself off the team. One thing I’d really like to see from Aldrich is for him to improve his conditioning. He’s been in the league for years now, there’s no excuse to have the stamina of Michael freakin’ Sweetney.

Ephus: During the off-season, I hoped that the Knicks would give Aldrich a two-year deal with the second year being a team option. I do not think he had a lot of alternative choices. Instead, they are going to have to bid for him. I think he is going to perform in the way that Koufas/Mozgov would in the same minutes. That probably gets a 3 year MLE deal.

Udwary: Hell yes! Assuming Cole doesn’t keel over to a heart attack, he is finally getting the minutes he deserves on this team, and is producing as he always has. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offers Cole will get at the end of the year, but he is at the very least a capable 20-25 minute backup and someone should offer him more than the veterans minimum. So far, he is also the poster child of the value of per minute statistics, and vindication for all the Knickerbloggers who have been yelling his name the past two seasons.

It’s the year 2025. Give us your summary of Shumpert’s NBA career up to this point.

Kurylo: Well it appears that former Knicks Iman Shumpert’s basketball career is over. Shumpert Facetweettubed his retirement from his Cuban villa. The former Knick, Cavalier, and King made his name on the basketball court as an All Star in China and then later in Germany playing for Dirk Nowitzki’s owned and coached championship team, Bayern Munich. In the U.S., Iman received notoriety for his testimony in the J.R.Smith trial, where Shumpert’s detailed J.R.’s erratic behavior was publicized by an HBO documentary: “Basketball Star to Porn Star: The Story of J.R. Smith”. Shumpert considered playing for Robert Kraft’s Pyongyang’s Patriots, but politely declined the offer.

Cronin: His career has seemingly matched the Knicks’ seasons as a whole in his four years in the league. In his first year, he was an exciting player with seemingly a lot of potential. In his second year, he was just flat out good but injuries took their toll. In his third season, he was very disappointing. And in his fourth season, he was injured and godawful.

Ephus: Shumpert looked like a great basketball player, but the results were never as good as the appearance. He was a walking contradiction. Great one-on-one ball defender who could not get over screens. Super athlete who could not finish in traffic. Gregarious rapper who was super-sensitive to criticism. But there were stretches when he could light up the court. He never lived up to the 4 year / $32 million contract that Utah gave him, but he has become a beloved member of the SLC community.

Gibberman: Confusing. Watching him airplane the Boston Celtics home in the first-round of the 12-13 playoffs is probably the top Knicks moment of the last 15 years. In those playoffs versus the Celtics and Pacers you saw exactly how Shumpert could be a positive contributor on very good teams. Play solid defense with knock down spot up shooting from three-point range. After Anthony kept them in Game 6 versus the Pacers, Shump was the one in the second half who almost stole the win turning into a blazing ball of fire behind the arc. Fun times, man.

Udwary: Shumpert is an easy guy to root for, but at this point of his career he seems to be a mediocre NBA player. At best he is a defensive specialist who won’t kill you with high usage chucking. The complete lack of development in his offensive game through his first 4 years is telling. He just isn’t a good shooter, and despite his great athleticism, he has a difficult time finishing at the rim. He’s one of those players that you look at and believe that he has so much potential, and he just needs to “put it all together”, then you realize he’s an 11 year veteran on the downside of his career. I will definitely miss rooting for him, but he wasn’t ever going to be a major contributor on this team going forward.

Grade the trade on a scale 1-5.

Kurylo: I give it a 3. I don’t think the Knicks have gotten better in a tangible sort of way. However I like the direction this takes the team. Shumpert has been untapped potential that never really emerged. J.R. Smith has long outstayed his welcome. In one sense I would have liked to see another pick or even a decent per-minute guy come back to New York. But then again I want this team to lose as many games as possible.

Cronin: 2.5. It’s not bad but nor is it good. The return for Shumpert was underwhelming, but I understand that $2 million of cap room was a big deal for Jackson, so it probably was something that needed to be done.

Ephus: 3.5. I believe that JR Smith has the gifts to be the second best player on a strong playoff team. He is literally his own worst enemy. And it was going to get really ugly around here. Shumpert is going to command at least Avery Bradley money this off-season, which the Knicks clearly did not want to pay. I expect both JR and Shumpert to have games that make us wonder, “What might have been?” But, I doubt that either would have been a useful part of the team going forward. And JR might have exploded at any moment.

Gibberman: 1. They got nothing, literally nothing for two guys that have been proven NBA rotation players. If the money gets used effectively this summer I reserve my right to make that number higher. If the money gets used poorly I’m making it a -5000.

Udwary: 3.0. It is what it is. They got back something they value (cap space) for two players that didn’t fit into their long term plans. I wouldn’t say it’s a good or bad trade. We’ll see how they fill out the open roster spots for the rest of the year, and how they use the cap space this trade generated.

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