Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterAs he experienced free agency for the first time, this offseason proved to be the summer of Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks. There’s also been plenty of talk surrounding Jose Calderon, a key new acquisition in the trade with Dallas. The likes of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early have also gained some increasing fan-fare over the last month and a half, largely in part due to a couple of impressive showings at NBA Summer League.
With Phil Jackson in town, actively continuing to put his own respective mark on the team’s roster, how some of the other players fit into this new equation remains to be seen. Nevertheless, one has to believe it may be worth making an effort to determine how (if at all) Iman Shumpert still fits into New York’s future plans.
Since first hitting the hardwood, there’s been plenty of hype surrounding the Georgia Tech product. He’s been recognized as a defensive-stopper, someone who isn’t afraid of matching up against and taking on some of the league’s most elite scorers. When he’s at his best, Shumpert plays with a certain intensity that isn’t often matched by many others. His style and the swagger he carries himself with on the court certainly fit the Big Apple.
But such intensity has somewhat wavered over the last two seasons. Shumpert has lacked consistency, though perhaps much of this can be attributed to the team’s lack of continuity with a confused coaching staff leading the way. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how the swingman is utilized moving forward.
In the past, there’s been chatter about whether or not Shumpert could handle point guard duties. In the triangle offense, the Knicks’ two point-guard lineup figurse to be a thing of the past, so the team will have other options to fall back on before the young gun. He’s also been considered a 3 and D player of sorts, but his lack of consistency from deep sometimes makes him a liability offensively. That explosive first step has also disappeared a bit, as Shumpert has not been encouraged to attack the basket too much.
In recent months, his name has been tossed around in trade rumors involving teams such as the Raptors, Clippers, and Thunder. With the likes of Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith figuring to eat up most of the minutes at shooting guard, one has to wonder if there will be any time left over for Shumpert.
How Coach Derek Fisher chooses to mix and match his lineups this season remains to be seen, but if anything appears likely at this point, it’s that Shumpert will have to fight for his minutes coming into of training camp. But perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing. Coming into his fourth year as a player, it might be best to light the fire under Shumpert’s butt and raise the bar for expectations.
To ensure he doesn’t become expendable, it’s important for the Knicks to put him in the best spot to succeed (where that will be in the rotation is anyone’s guess) and look to get the most out of him while they still can. Under a new regime, it could prove to be a new beginning for Shumpert. He was once a hot commodity, so this is his opportunity to prove he can still be one.