Iman Shumpert was not his usual boisterous self after the Knicks’ 102-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. He spoke softly, sometimes responding to questions with one-word answers. Shumpert spent a majority of his time in the locker room with his head down.
Shumpert knows he has had a difficult week. He has been trying to find his rhythm on the court and his niche with the Knicks. And on Saturday night, he became the subject of a trade rumor. The Phoenix Suns were said to be interested in making a deal for Shumpert, a second-year guard, in exchange for Jared Dudley and a possible first-round pick before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Shumpert, who returned to the court less than a month ago after having knee surgery in the spring, met with Coach Mike Woodson on Saturday.
“He said don’t worry about it,” Shumpert said. “Rumors are rumors. I don’t really care. I just have to play ball. I can’t control that anyway. It’s nothing to worry about. I just have to go out there and play.”
Before Sunday’s game, Woodson denied the report and said he would like Shumpert to remain with the Knicks because of his defensive abilities and his high level of energy on the court. But Woodson also knows he cannot make any promises to Shumpert on whether he will stay in New York.
“I don’t think you ever tell a player he’s not going anywhere,” Woodson said. “That’s kind of out of my hands. If the owner came to me and said, ‘Hey, we have to do a deal,’ then you do the deal.”
Shumpert has averaged 4.6 points and 3 rebounds in 12 games this season. Dudley entered Sunday averaging 11.8 points and 3.6 rebounds over 49 games.
Shumpert’s main assignment for Sunday’s game was a tough one: guard Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
In the last month, the Knicks have struggled to defend the league’s best point guards. Shumpert, whom fans adored last year for his defensive efforts, was supposed to help alleviate the problems on defense. But it is clear he will need time to resemble the player who averaged 1.7 steals per game last season.
Against the Clippers, Shumpert was not able to stop Paul from getting into the paint for runners. In the fourth quarter, Paul drove past Shumpert twice for baskets. Shumpert finished Sunday’s game with 2 points in 21 minutes.
“It’s a challenge to guard a guy like Chris Paul when you’re at your best form,” he said. “I know it’s going to be tough. I just have to continue to work at it and guard guys, and sooner or later I’ll get back to where I was.”
Shumpert, Hearing Trade Rumors, Tries to Shrug Them Off
New York Times | Feb 11