ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the New York Knicks are pursuing a potential trade of Iman Shumpert in return for a first-round pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like the best idea. After all, the Knicks are already hurting for young, athletic talents and there’s no guarantee that a late first-rounder is going to give them anything better. As is usually the case, there’s more to it.
The Knicks are fully aware that they aren’t going to be competing for the NBA championship next season — especially if they sit back and watch Carmelo Anthony walk away. However, they do have a much clearer salary cap picture come next offseason. Knicks’ president Phil Jackson could make a major offer to at least one big name during the 2015 offseason.
The most realistic situation for the Knicks would be a swap with the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder for what would amount to a mid-to-low 20’s pick. Those picks can turn out well, as the Knicks took Tim Hardaway (No. 24 in 2013), Wilson Chandler (No. 23 in 2007) and David Lee (No. 30 in 2005) with picks in that range. They’re not expecting a superstar in return, but a solid role player would be great.
As of today, the Knicks have player options from J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton on the books, with Tim Hardaway Jr. having his two-year team option and Shumpert having a qualifying offer of $3.7 million. Getting rid of Shumpert now alleviates any possibility of not offering him that amount and watching him walk away for free.
It’s not the best scenario in the world no matter what happens, but being able to finally be done with the massive amounts owed to Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million in 2014-15), Tyson Chandler ($14.5) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5) means the team could effectively hit the “reset” button.
There are some very intriguing free agents coming through the pipelines during the 2015 offseason, including Rajon Rondo, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Al Jefferson and DeAndre Jordan.
Putting together an offer to bring together their own form of a “Big Three” would put the Knicks on the fast track back to relevancy in the NBA playoffs. Wouldn’t a trio of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Love go a long way towards the New York Knicks returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since the short 1998-99 season.