On Iman Shumpert and the Unknown

Often, when thinking about columns to write for KB, my mind invariably drifts to some grand, What We Talk About When We Talk About Iman Shumpert glass-case-of-emotion think piece.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. Amid a heaping dumpster of old players, big contracts, and forfeited draft picks, Shumpert for the last three years has been a brilliant but fleeting hologram — a young, homegrown, wildly athletic two-way player whose injury problems and maddening inconsistency make you wonder if your talent-starved eyes have been deceiving you the whole time.

Russia, Winston Churchill famously said, is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. This isn’t too far off for how Knicks fans likely feel about Shumpert. He is a very good, if overrated, perimeter defender, who gambles too much but shines brighter in comparison to the rest of the roster, comprised largely of swivel chairs. (As Chris Herring notes, he made the Knicks significantly better on defense last year, but what replacement-level defender wouldn’t help a team of Feltons, Anthonys, Bargnanis and Stoudemires at that end?) He is athletic but struggles to get to the rim consistently. He is an excellent rebounder for his size but rarely gets to the foul line. He is simultaneously silky but a poor ball-handler, effortlessly cool one moment and awkward the next. On some nights, his playmaking makes you think he has put it all together; on others, you wonder how someone so agile can have such little offensive creativity and struggle so much to penetrate.

He seems like an ideal “3 and D” guy, except three-plus years in, we aren’t sure if he can, you know, shoot threes. 31, 40, 33 — those are his three-point percentages in three regular seasons. Paired with his excellent shooting start to 2014, your guess is as good as mine as to Shumpert’s real shooting ability.

There are the caveats — how the Knicks mistakenly used him as an emergency point guard for much of the first half of his rookie year; his ACL tear; the mistreatment he endured at the hands of Mike Woodson, who threw him under the bus time and again, and ownership, who seemed to shop him around to all 29 teams and maybe even a few D-League franchises (for little more than a late first-round pick and a washing machine, at times.)

And then there are the stretches when you talk yourself into thinking that he can be an integral piece on a playoff team even more than a mere cog in a Popovichian corner-3 laser show — his postseason performance two years ago, his stellar play in Texas last year, and, of course, his tremendous start this season.

We are, as Jonathan Schulman rightly noted after Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks, seeing a Shumpert start that is “teetering on the edge of being more than just a hot streak.” Unlike most of the team’s roster, he has seemed well-suited to the Triangle almost immediately. He is averaging 16/5/5 per 36, with his assist totals jumping up to nearly twice what they were last year. He’s getting to the line more. His effective field goal and true shooting percentages are above 56 percent and, while they are sure to drop following some serious regression from his 53 percent three-point shooting so far, remain extremely impressive. For the first time in a long time, he looks comfortable.

In a positively Knicksian wrinkle, it is worthwhile to note that the organization clearly doesn’t have a grasp on Shumpert’s value as a player, more than three years in. They have started him, benched him, nearly traded him ten times over. The whole trade deadline melodrama last year had more than a twinge of organizational self-importance to it — the constant chatter was, after all, about a three-year veteran with a PER rating under 10.

Regardless of what the front office thinks, decision time is approaching. The Knicks declined to negotiate a contract extension for Shumpert and could still trade him this year. Otherwise, the team will presumably give him an offer by June 30, which he will surely reject, making him a restricted free agent.

And, at the risk of yet again placing an elevated level of importance on our flat-topped hero, the ensuing decision will say a lot about Phil Jackson and his approach to team-building. The Knicks may very well have max-level cap space this summer, but KB’s Official Number One Wish Marc Gasol is seen as highly unlikely to leave Memphis, and even then the Knicks would have competitors. With Plan A likely dead in the water, the team will have to decide whether it will pursue potential high-talent but questionably fitting players like LaMarcus Aldridge or Rajon Rondo for a max deal. And, in what will be an overlapping decision, ownership will have to decide just what amount in precious cap room they’re willing to match for an enigmatic, streaky fan favorite whom they seemed committed to jettisoning six months ago.

Typically, when I plan the Iman Shumpert Fan Experience Manifesto in my head, I come to some sort of overarching conclusion in the end. But right now, I’m not sure I have one. There aren’t many compelling reasons to watch the Knicks right now, unless you’re a fan of leaky defensive units and mid-range jumpers. The brilliant Carmelo Anthony, as ever, is one. Watching a young, new coach in all his imperfections and flashes of promise is another. There’s the enduring question of the Triangle, and ultimately a sure-to-be crowd-pleasing José Calderón (and, of course, Air Bargnani.) But more than all those things, at least for me, is a suddenly rejuvenated Iman Shumpert, showing the two-way promise we all thought or hoped he might be capable of.

Enjoy it. Because whether the Knicks deal him in the coming weeks or months or this hot start has been just another dazzling hologram we so desperately want to believe in, he may not be here too much longer.

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Jonathan Topaz

Jonathan Topaz is a reporter for POLITICO. He can be reached at jonathan.topaz@gmail.com or on Twitter @JonathanTopaz.

69 thoughts to “On Iman Shumpert and the Unknown”

  1. I say give Shump his $$$. If he matures, he will be worth it. If not, I’m going to just give up anyway, since he and pablo are the only things worth watching anymore. God, I miss Anthony Mason

  2. Is this part of Knickerblogger’s new “and the Unknown” series?

    If I believed in the chances of this team signing Marc Gasol and being half decent next year with a Calderon-Shumpert-Melo-Gasol core, I would hold on to Shump and I’d be ok with paying him.

    We’re more likely to strike out in free agency and be abysmal next year, so I’d try to sell high on him.

  3. Shumpert is definitely one of the big questions of this season. As people have said on this board if he plays well, he is going to get 10 + a year. Hubert brought this up yesterday, and I agree we should seriously start thinking about Melo especially if we strike out in free agency. If we are going to insist on playing the triangle next year we need to sign one of Hibbert or Gasol and if don’t get one of them we might as well trade Melo …… What i really want to happen and what i think others have said but won’t happen is to run back our 2012-13 offense. We should trade JR & Calderon for picks/expirings and try and sign Dragic, Danny Green and if we are really lucky sign john henson for cheap in the offseason, all this hoping shump doesn’t sign another team’s offer sheet(i seriously think this is doable, especially getting green and dragic). In the draft we should go after cauley-stein, he pretty much plays the tyson chandler role on kentucky this year, just dunks and plays defense. I think a dragic, shump, green, melo and stein team would be a okay team in 15-16, especially if we let Early, thansis and stein play a lot to see if we have anything. Finally if Stein can be 85% of what chandler was in 12-13 in 16-17, third year of melo’s contract, and we go after whatever we need with the mid-level + we have a draft pick. It’s not like i think that team will win the title but i do think that it would be a contender in the East. I think people criticize woodson a lot, rightly so, but if we had a lowry or dragic instead of felton and ran that 4 out offense we would have beaten Indy and given miami a run imo. I also think that Kidd was the defacto coach/leader on that team and he would be a good coach for the team put together above. Again really unlikely to happen……

  4. I don’t really understand how Shumpert at 10mln$-per year is a foundational piece for a championship contender. If we’re talking about keeping him around just in case, well maybe it’s ok (just so we can trade him after). But I would like much, much more one or two players on rookie contracts to develop from scratch. Shump is a nice player, but I don’t see him becoming much more than a good 4th starter for a fringe contender. You want to see a guy who REALLY needs to be kept? Look at Jimmy Butler (long a comparison for our Shump. This season, I hope, no more).

    That said, I would like to see Melo and maybe Jose traded to Phoenix for the Morris twins, Len, Archie Goodwin and Isiah Thomas (and a first). I’m already fed up by this thing called “2014/15 Knicks”. There is just too much mediocrity.

  5. —That said, I would like to see Melo and maybe Jose traded to Phoenix for the Morris twins, Len, Archie Goodwin and Isiah Thomas (and a first).

    IMO this is an awful trade.

    Shump’s defense hasnt really been dominant for a while, and playing with a bunch of guys who are terrible on D make him look better. Offensively if he can keep improving that would be cool.

  6. I don’t really understand how Shumpert at 10mln$-per year is a foundational piece for a championship contender.

    This is sort of where I’m landing on Shump as well. Turning into a very good player but at $10-12M a year (which he will get I think) it just feels like you’re treading water. Paying him that with what Melo is already making feels like an awful lot to lock in the two key cogs on one of the worst teams in the NBA (which we are). We’re so, so far from where we need to be, and keeping Shump at a fair price feels like a really lateral move.

    So with all that said, let’s play the trade machine game:

    One obvious target seems like the Kings. Seems like they think they can make the playoffs and with Boogie beasting and OKC possibly leaving a slot I can’t say they’re crazy. Plus they’re very thin in the backcourt, particularly at the 2. So Shumpert for Stauskas and some kind of protected future #1 (Would have to be a few years out I think as they’re losing this year’s pick already, also this might be wishful thinking, Stauskas and a second rounder is probably more realistic). We flip Shump into a younger, cost controlled asset and a pick, they improve their odds of making the playoffs.

    Other teams who seem like logical matches: the Pelicans (same logic as the Kings basically), the Grizz (legit title contenders I think, particularly if OKC doesn’t make it, but they could use one more quality wing I think) and the Clippers (really in need of a wing who can defend and shoot 3s ever since Barnes fell apart).

  7. IMO this is an awful trade.

    I agree that it’s not superb, but if we want to be realistic there’s not much more around, and keep in mind that we need capable 2-way basketball players on good contracts. If Phoenix called and asked me about that, I would be hesitant but only because Thomas is a bad fit for the Triangle (but if we could send him somewhere for a 1st I would agree). The Morris twins are perfect for the system, and Len is growing very fast. Goodwin could be nothing or a poor man Shump, who knows.

    Anyway, mine was just a bit of a provocative issue. It’s too early to think about trading Melo, but I’m aghast at the blandness of these Knicks games. I don’t really care if they win or not, there’s nobody there to root for (save for Melo and Shump, but I’m not that enthused about jump shot after jump shot). Cole doesn’t play (and honestly he does not look that good under Fisher), Acy is less fun that his skillset (?) suggests, Pablo plays too little, and the other guys are more frustrating than anything. I’m just too bored.

  8. If only Melo didn’t have a full no-trade clause.

    Yes I know. And that means that if we end up trading him we will get Redick, Spencer Hawes, Jordan Farmar and Matt Barnes (plus something else from another team to make contracts match, let’s say Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton).

  9. One small problem with trading for Nik Stauskas is that he sucks. He’s a lousy defender and I’ve had about enough of watching lousy defenders.

  10. I thin Butler is better than Shump and has a better track record offensively going back to college and the good year he had sandwich between his bad years but I am still skeptical about him going forward. Also, I think Shump would probably look as good as Butler if he was in Thibs system defensively.

    So many players have had the one good year shooting only to return to form. Shump did have an ACL that people can point to but then I think back to his college years and he was a mess there too. I do not think I will trust Shump even if he does have a great year offensively.

    It was reported that some teams would offer a 1st for Shump last year so it makes me wonder what teams would offer if he maintains his shooting up to the deadline. When Westbrook and Durant get back would OKC be up for a swap with reggie and shump? Is reggie worth it. Could the knicks get Reggie and a 1st from okc. Maybe even include Jose. I think Westbrook and Jose would be a nice pair, similar to Ellis and Jose.

  11. Is everyone sure that signing Marc Gasol to a max deal is “the answer?” Does anyone else think that, rather than put all of their eggs in the Gasol basket, the Knicks might be better off trying to sign Millsap and someone like Greg Monroe?

  12. For this team, nothing is “The Answer”. But signing Gasol is the best possible move we could make and would move the needle the most for the crucial year of Melo’s contract.

    greg monroe kinda sucks and is going to be expensive and i think a millsap monroe combination is far weaker than just getting gasol for this team. Since Marc seems unlikely to leave Memphis though, Dolan might want to overpay for the consolation prizes you just mentioned which would be infuriating in typical Knicks fashion

  13. Is everyone sure that signing Marc Gasol to a max deal is “the answer?”

    An aging Melo is a depreciating asset, so the Knicks best chances to win will be in the next two years. They’ll be looking to move aggressively for players that can make Melo’s age-31 and 32 years count, before he likely begins to slow down. Gasol is maybe the best defensive player in the league and a perfect fit for the Triangle, given his great passing and basketball IQ. He’s also an excellent pairing for Anthony at the 4 and a team that will likely feature, at minimum, two minus defenders (in Melo and Calderon) in its starting lineup.

    But again, can’t see him leaving Memphis. And he’ll have many other suitors

  14. Does anyone else think that, rather than put all of their eggs in the Gasol basket, the Knicks might be better off trying to sign Millsap and someone like Greg Monroe?

    +.5 NO NO NO to Monroe, yes to Hibbert and Millsap. Hibbert is having a career year so far, has a player option, hates George, grew up in NYC, would be nice fit for Triangle and has cap hit of 15.5m. He has that baby hook using left or right hand so he could set up on either block and a cursory review shows he’s shot that hook at about 60% over fairly large volume. I’m really liking Triangle using Hibbert/Melo/Shump (Shump signed using Morey maneuver. )

    Millsap is a post-up versatile player who could take the tougher D cover from Melo. It wouldn’t surprise me if Phil engineered a sequence where we trade our top 3 pick (select for another team and then trade it ending up with Millsap or Aldridge – Is that legal? I know we’re not able to trade pick ahead of draft.). I have no idea how it would all work but keeping pick doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if we’re committed to Melo. I don’t think future need be as bleak as people think.

  15. All this talk of trading away lottery picks and signing Greg Monroe and going all-in for a longshot pipe dream of winning a world championship over the next two years is not sounding like a real “change of the culture” type of thing. It sounds an awful lot like the same idiotic shit that this franchise has been doing for about a decade and a half now.

    If we just add Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford to our Stephon Marbury core, we’ll be awesome! Stephon is getting old, so we gotta win now. We don’t have time to wait for Joakim Noah to develop.

  16. “yes to Hibbert and Millsap.”
    I just have trouble erasing Hibbert’s 0/0/0 stat line in a couple playoff games last year from my memory.
    “Shump signed using Morey maneuver.”
    Hopefully executed slightly better than Morey did it…

  17. All this talk of trading away lottery picks and signing Greg Monroe and going all-in for a longshot pipe dream of winning a world championship over the next two years is not sounding like a real “change of the culture” type of thing. It sounds an awful lot like the same idiotic shit that this franchise has been doing for about a decade and a half now.

    That is why I was advocating not to sign Melo to the max. The problem is that, now that you have him signed to the max you have to surround him with championship caliber players. This is not about the plausibility of winning it all; it is about the fact that, as soon you signed that contract, you said that you wanted to build a 2015/2016 roster to contend. Look, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes so only if we bring in the wrong players (and there will be many of them around next year in July).

    That’s unless you really rest Melo this year (fake injury or not, I don’t care), so that he’ll have some mileage left in the latter stages of this contract, and take him off the shelf only if the playoffs are around the corner in March (ha,ha,ha – not likely, unless JR develops a high IQ, which is even more unlikely).

    I have to say, though, that I’m kinda worried about Fisher (I know, less than a week ago I said there was nothing to fear. I thought we would win against Minnesota, though). I’m not worried about him as a coach, his career is too young. But coaches who lose too much at the early stages of their career are not the best candidates to win it all sooner or later, Popovich notwithstanding (and he had the benefit of a certain Timmy). That’s what worries me. I am afraid we could look at him in 20 games and see too much Kurt Rambis in him. That would be a horrible blow to the Phil agenda.

  18. It sounds an awful lot like the same idiotic shit that this franchise has been doing for about a decade and a half now.

    Dunno but isn’t Hibbert/Melo/Millsap/Shump very much like that strong championship-caliber Pacer team before it imploded. I have confidence that Phil/Fish/Triangle could do a much better job than Vogel on offensive side.

  19. —Dunno but isn’t Hibbert/Melo/Millsap/Shump very much like that strong championship-caliber Pacer team before it imploded

    Uh yea this is a nice looking lineup.

  20. Sorta off topic……My brother while in an altered state of mind last night had an interesting thought. Are teams facing the Sixers going to give extra effort as not to lose to them…. You know like how teams get up for the Cavs, Lakers, Spurs etc. Teams will get up to pummel the Sixers as not to get embarassed , i guess thats how a team wins less than 10 games in a season.

  21. @er

    Yes they certainly are. And that’s why we’ll be the one losing first to them. Isn’t this our mission? To galvanize miserable opponent teams?

  22. All this talk of trading away lottery picks and signing Greg Monroe and going all-in for a longshot pipe dream of winning a world championship over the next two years is not sounding like a real “change of the culture” type of thing. It sounds an awful lot like the same idiotic shit that this franchise has been doing for about a decade and a half now.

    Yup.

    On the one hand, it’s nice to have Phil here. On the other hand, he’s what…70? He’s on a 5 year deal, and probably isn’t thinking about setting us up for the long term. So he’s not as crazy stupid short term like so many of his predecessors, but he’s probably not looking to reup with the Knicks in 2019. He wants to do something in his 5 years.

    Which means, yes, our draft pick will likely be traded for an established NBA player.

    The best case scenario is we can sign Gasol, retain Shump, get someone great for that draft pick, and build around it. That’s probably not going to win us a title, but that would get us 2-3 years of seriously contending (depending on who we pick up by trading that draft pick). And that would make Phil feel like he accomplished something.

    If we had Masai Ujiri, or someone similar, we would have sign-and-traded Melo this summer and would not be entertaining the idea of trading our pick this year.

  23. If we had Masai Ujiri, or someone similar, we would have sign-and-traded Melo this summer and would not be entertaining the idea of trading our pick this year.

    +1

  24. Nah ….The closest games were a 1 point @ Houston and 2 points to Orl. Other than that its been ugly. I mean does anyone know who Hollis Thompson, Brandon Davies, Drew Gordon, and Rober Covington is? Knicks fans only know Sims from his time here, but man that team is bad. Minny has tons more talent than this team. Ugh but alas you may be right, 1-11

  25. –Which means, yes, our draft pick will likely be traded for an established NBA player.

    –If we had Masai Ujiri, or someone similar, we would have sign-and-traded Melo this summer and would not be entertaining the idea of trading our pick this year.

    Has this been discussed or are you projecting us entertaining trades for the pick?

  26. Someone mentioned Butler earlier, and if we were going to trade our pick he is a player I think you might be able to get next year, what with Reinsdorf being so cheap and all. And he might be the ideal 5th guy to add to that pie-in-the-sky Melo-Gasol-Calderon-Shumpert team.

    It’s wonderful to imagine and unlikely to occur.

  27. LOL. killed the Knicks with one hand.

    An MRI revealed that Kevin Martin has a fractured right wrist and will be out indefinitely.

    Further evaluation will be done over the next few days to determine the next course of action.

    The injury occurred at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter during Minnesota’s 115-99 win over New York on Wednesday, November 19.

  28. Has this been discussed or are you projecting us entertaining trades for the pick?

    A combination of both. Phil has discussed a timeline in which he wants to compete for a title, and it includes Melo’s prime, which is likely another 1-3 years.

    An established NBA player is more likely to make a major impact in 1-3 years, so I am anticipating that will likely look to shop it around.

  29. I like Shumpert a lot. He can play perimeter defense and has shown offense too. But at what price? $10M? $15M? To me he’s about a sub $10M player.

    Also, I’ve got a very strong feeling that Shumpert wants out of this mess. So, I would trade him and try and get back a #1 pick. There’s a market for him and we should sell high.

  30. –I’ve got a very strong feeling that Shumpert wants out of this mess.

    Nah i doubt that. Hes alot more famous than he would be anywhere else. He even has dated two celebs. NY is awesome especially when young.

  31. The best case scenario is we can sign Gasol, retain Shump, get someone great for that draft pick, and build around it. That’s probably not going to win us a title, but that would get us 2-3 years of seriously contending (depending on who we pick up by trading that draft pick).

    So another boom-bust cycle where the “boom” part is more like a “pop” and the “bust” part lasts a decade. That sounds about right.

    I swear, it doesn’t matter who comes here, this team still just eternally sucks. You could bring back Pat Riley, hire the ghost of Red Auerbach, build a cyborg Red Holtzman and this team would still give out mega-max contracts to mediocre efficiency volume scorers and trade away high lottery picks for Greg Monroe and Paul Milsap.

  32. Wake up, folks. The Clippers have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and they can’t get out of the West. The Thunder have Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka and they can’t, either. You think a pair of overrated, overpaid big men is going to lead this team to a top seed? C’mon. They’re not Bargnani and Kwame, but they sure ain’t Duncan and Garnett, either.

  33. My point is that players like Hibbert and Monroe are “treadmill of mediocrity” players. Good enough to get you a #7 seed, but not good enough to get you to a Conference championship (and don’t start with the Hibbert stuff — those teams lived and died on Paul George and Lance Stephenson).

    If you’re going to offer a max contract, offer it to great players, not “best available” players. It’d be a different story if they were two-year contracts, but giving something like a 35-year-old Carmelo 35% of your cap space is totally gutting. (So is giving Shumpert $10-12M a year, but I’m sure I’m in the minority about that.)

  34. “If you’re going to offer a max contract, offer it to great players, not “best available” players.”
    I agree with you about not offering Hibbert/Monroe and Millsap max contracts. I realize that it’s unlikely (because all three will probably get overpaid by someone), but I was suggesting that it might be preferable to get both Monroe (or Hibbert, I guess) and Millsap with the available cap space instead of paying a max contract to Gasol and only having enough left to sign an MLE-type player. I’m not sure that I think that Gasol is a “great” player.
    “So is giving Shumpert $10-12M a year, but I’m sure I’m in the minority about that.”
    I think that this is one of those rare occasions on which I agree with you.

  35. I somewhat agree. But a few things to consider.

    1) What would the contracts look like?
    2)You literally can only give contracts to the best available players
    3) I dont think Melo will be 35% of the cap with the increases upcoming
    4)No way a team with that frontline, an improved shump and a few other nice additions would be a 7 seed in the East.

  36. One bad decision begets another. We gave Melo the mega-max, despite having no talent to surround him with, so instead of trying to acquire assets and do a proper rebuild, we’re once again doing a half-assed “win now” attempt, trying to fill a million holes with a couple of big-ticket free agent signings and whatever other scraps we can fill the roster out with. I’ve seen this movie before.

  37. –We’re once again doing a half-assed “win now” attempt, trying to fill a million holes with a couple of big-ticket free agent signings and whatever other scraps we can fill the roster out with.

    80% of the NBA does this. You just need to select the right guys. I mean every champion since 2000 except the Spurs has won through free agency.

  38. Not true.
    Lakers traded for Shaq and Pau
    Dallas for Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler
    Detroit for Rasheed and Ben Wallace
    Even the Celtics traded for KG.
    The Heat is the only team since the 90s to really won through free agency.

  39. Nobody did it exclusively through free agency. Miami drafted Wade. Mavs drafted Dirk. Lakers drafted Kobe. Celtics drafted Pierce. These are all superstars that were homegrown.

    Free agency is a great path, but only in conjunction with keeping draft picks.

  40. I agree with you about the homegrown stars, but disagree with the conclusion.

    IMO free agency is a great way to overpay a capped system.

    Unless of course you are signing the best player of this generation.

  41. In fact, every championship team of the modern era, with the lone exception of the 2004 Pistons, was built around at least one homegrown star player. That is 34 out of a possible 35 teams. That is 97% of all champions. If that’s not a road map for success in a salary-capped league, then I don’t know what is.

    Yet perennial losers like the Dolan era Knicks insist on letting it ride on that 3% bet. Not once, not twice, but year after year after year.

  42. Most (all) championship teams are put together by well run organizations. So those teams usually contain a misture of homegrown/drafted talent, good free agent signings and players obtained through key/shrewd trades. The debate over what path (trades, draft or FA) is the best path to a championship is a silly one, IMO, bc every championship team usually contains a combo of all of those 3 things (or at least a combo of two).

    The problem with The Knicks is that, besides Melo and maybe Shumpert, Calderon and Hardaway if he can get his act together, is that we don’t really have any talented players. So even though we will have a ton of cap space coming up next year, we are gonna overpay for players, even if they are very very good players like Gasol. If we had a core of good young players all ready on cheap contracts and a bunch of draft picks, maybe another legit star besides Melo…then convincing someone to come here for a little less becomes easier.

    We had to overpay for STAT and we’ll have to overpay for whoever else we get next year. Which puts us back where we were before.

    Honestly the best option would be to trade Melo if possible but if that’s not happening, I say we tank this year and go after Gasol. Maybe trade that top pick for another really good player and resign Shump. Gasol, Calderon, Shump and Melo could be an excellent starting 4 out of 5.

  43. @47 Technically, the Lakers didn’t draft Kobe, the Hornets did and traded him to the Lakers for Divac.

    And ask teams like the Bobcats (Hornets) and the Kings how well keeping draft picks and nurturing “homegrown” talent has worked out for them over the years

  44. About the only chance this team has of doing jack shit over the next five years is hitting a home run with their upcoming lottery pick. Other than that, you’re hoping to win with a roster built around a handful of guys who are overpaid, supplemented with whatever bums are willing to play for the league minimum and/or BAE type money. Good luck with that formula. You need to get surplus value from somewhere, and MegaMax Melo is not surplus value.

  45. @47 Technically, the Lakers didn’t draft Kobe, the Hornets did and traded him to the Lakers for Divac

    The trade was agreed to before the pick was made. Jerry West targeted Kobe and made that trade specifically to obtain him. He made the pick for the Hornets. Obviously that is a homegrown talent and I don’t see the point of drawing that distinction as to who technically drafted him. It was the Lakers.

    Most (all) championship teams are put together by well run organizations. So those teams usually contain a misture of homegrown/drafted talent, good free agent signings and players obtained through key/shrewd trades. The debate over what path (trades, draft or FA) is the best path to a championship is a silly one, IMO, bc every championship team usually contains a combo of all of those 3 things (or at least a combo of two).

    Yes, exactly. But the Knicks for 15 years now have ignored the one element which is omnipresent in success, which is drafting and growing stars.

    Also, to what you are saying, I think “Free Agency” and “via trade” are often pretty much the same thing when it comes to star players. LeBron and Bosh were technically trades. And Carmelo Anthony was essentially a Free Agent, as the only reason he was available to the Knicks was because he was an impending Free Agent. But almost all stars that change teams become available to move because of a contractual situations forcing hands.

    But the drafted players can be controlled for 7+ years. The fact that the Hornets and Kings haven’t become champs is silly, as not all teams that value draft picks become champs. But all teams that don’t value draft picks inevitably DON’T become champs, and that is the Knicks.

  46. MegaMax Melo is not surplus value.

    The only “surplus” players are players on rookie deals period. The next crop of players to get big deals will get far larger deals than Melo.

  47. “But all teams that don’t value draft picks inevitably DON’T become champs, and that is the Knicks.”

    I’m pretty sure we highly valued our draft picks in 2008 and 2009, but unfortunately we barely missed out on Love and Westbrook in 2008 and Curry in 2009 by pure luck of the draw. Which is really the point, there is so much luck involved in the draft, where would Golden State be without Steph Curry? And where would the Bulls be if they hadn’t miraculously gotten the #1 pick in 2008?

  48. The only “surplus” players are players on rookie deals period.

    Not true. Steph Curry signed for 4/$44 million. That is huge surplus value until 2018 (that’s less than people on this thread are talking about playing Iman Shumpert!).

    And Dirk is surplus value.

    And the San Antonio 3 are surplus value.

    And Lowry is surplus value (also less than Shumpert’s assumed asking price!)

    And Harden’s $14 mil is surplus value.

    (And, no surprise, those are all the top teams in the league)

  49. I’m pretty sure we highly valued our draft picks in 2008 and 2009, but unfortunately we barely missed out

    That’s like going on two bad dates and then committing to a life of celibacy :)

  50. Steph was lowballed after he had two injury plagued seasons. So yea but that was his first contract, his Next one will be huge. The Spurs are three old guys who in a vacuum are not surplus value. They work well in that system.

    Harden is a good one tho…. Took the Max but it’s a good contract so there’s one. But my point is after that first max there is no surplus value.

  51. Oh it definitely bugs me that we don’t value picks at all. Its infuriating. Not jsut picks but guys like Lin and Copeland that we found out of nowhere. Why we don’t do more team options on guys like that is beyond me. I’m not saying they are world beaters or difference makers but for the original value we had them at, they far exceeded their value and we should ahve found a way to hold onto them or trade them for other assetts. I also think we suffer from the fact that players can get really overhyped playing for the Knicks so they end up getting bigger contracts jsut bc they played with us (Lin being the most obvious example).

    But there was a time we could have held on to Lin, Copeland, Shawne Williams…going back David Lee, Nate, Ariza, Channing Frye, jordan Hill…so many decently good young players that we either traded away or who walked for nothing or next to nothing in the name of clearing cap space. And it feels like the only reason we haven’t done it again this year is bc we have no more draft picks to throw into trades. This is why I hope part of Phil’s plan this year is to trade some players after Dec. 15th for picks even if they are second rounders. I believe Pablo, for example, could be valuable to a playoff team looking to shore up their PG rotation for the playoffs. As bad as hardaway is right now I’d still hold on to him bc of his rookie contract and I think he can learn to play D. I don’t want to overpay for shump but part of me wants us to resign him jsut bc every other young player we’ve had we’ve let walk and they’ve usually gone on to be pretty solid NBA players.

  52. http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/jahlil-okafor-1.html

    Through three games at Duke, Jahlil Okafor is scoring 17.7 points a game on a .795 TS%, and he averages 10 rebounds per 40. I’m honestly hoping that we just luck into this kid and build around him for the future. I’m also hoping the Jets can get either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston in the draft this year. There isn’t much to do for a New York sports fan except for hope. So that’s what I’ll do.

    Regarding Shump? Pay him his money if he’s consistent, because that would make Shump a rare commodity in this league as a top player on both sides of the ball (a .584 TS% on a 21.1 USG% makes you a top offensive player in this league) at age 25. We’d have him through his prime and you cannot compete for NBA championships without top two way players in this league. You just cannot. The way Iman Shumpert has been playing (the .100 WS/48 has more to do with his DRtg than anything else, his .167 WP/48 is more accurate), you have to keep him around. It’s the right basketball move. Letting him go to sign a 30 year old Marc Gasol would not be wise IMO. It’s not like Anthony Davis is a UFA this year.

  53. And if we’re being honest, I’d offer Jimmy Butler a max deal before I offered one to Marc Gasol. Jimmy Butler and Iman Shumpert would be a handful on the wings, and in my universe we’d also have Jahlil Okafor.

  54. Wow, Philly losing by 31 at home to the Suns.

    Tomorrow nights clash of the titans should be a truly epic battle, can’t miss TV.

  55. Wow, Philly losing by 31 at home to the Suns.

    Tomorrow nights clash of the titans should be a truly epic battle, can’t miss TV.

    Yup. 0-12 Philly, on the road, playing on the back end of a back-to-back.

    The stage is set for an all-new low for the New York Knickerbockers…

  56. I think if Iman Shumpert keeps on pace for his numbers this season, he’s a top player in this league. And by top player, I mean top 40 or 50 once you consider his value both sides on both sides of the ball. He wouldn’t be on the same level as Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard, but a tier below those two definitely makes him really valuable. And that’s pretty much my entire premise; if Iman Shumpert keeps up his level of play over the season, he deserves to be paid and we should be the team to do it.

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