This isn’t a post to discuss the speculative Iman Shumpert – Jared Dudley swap, but I will say that if there is merit to such rumors, the idea should not be dismissed out of hand. In fact, once the Knicks traded David Lee, and traded Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, and let Jeremy Lin walk, they further cemented their current path with each step. Trading Shumpert for a veteran is the logical progression in their clearly defined strategy.
The Knicks famously have the oldest team in the NBA. They have two rookies, aged 28 and 35: They aren’t exactly engaged in a future-oriented youth movement. They do have a draft pick this year – likely mid-20s (hopefully 30th) – but that’s it by way of near-future assets. They aren’t building towards anything beyond this year, the year after, and the year after that, at which time, or before, the majority of the Knicks’ current players’ salaries (and possibly bodies), will decompose as the circle of life refreshes anew with a bare salary cap. Short term, the Knicks have mortgaged most of their future to try to win a title in this fleeting window.
So, do the Knicks forgo this plan now, at this point, out of loyalty to Shumpert, or out of an uncertain hope that he may blossom some day to superstardom, if they can better the team by flipping him for a player that could help them more today? If he ultimately becomes a superstar, will it be in time for him to be the missing ingredient for the Knicks to win a title within three years? Again, I’m not saying that Jared Dudley is that missing piece, but the writing has been on the wall for awhile – don’t get too attached.
In one or a series of bitter ravings this past summer about the Knicks’ disloyalty and short-sightedness in letting go of Lin, I made the point that the blueprint the Knicks were actualizing left Shumpert vulnerable, that he was probably “next” as the Knicks doubled, tripled and quadrupled-down on the present. While I’m less bitter now, what with the Knicks’ success this year, I’m no less convinced that Shumpert is exposed as the Knicks further leverage tomorrow for today.
And I think trading him in the right deal is also probably the right thing to do.