It’s no surprise Mike Woodson takes the game of basketball seriously. If the action of throwing your shoe at your players for fumbling a play were an expression, Woodson wears it nightly. The only thing he seems to take more seriously is maintaining his patch of jet black facial hair in a perfect circle of sternness. Like Thibodeau, if he ever smiles, it’s when opponents’ field goal percentages drop lower than the freezing point.
So when New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson asserted that reserve Iman Shumpert wouldn’t be traded before the Feb. 21 deadline, you can expect that he was serious.
While speaking with Stephen A. Smith, Woodson defended his young player and seemed irked by the media’s nagging curiosity, saying, “I don’t need to say anymore.”
About what, exactly?
About the Knick’s aversion to youth. At only 22, Iman Shumpert has proven that he can be a Pippen-like lock-down defender, and has a high ceiling like Madison Square Garden. After tearing his ACL in the playoffs last season, Shumpert has been slow to ease back into a Knicks team that is dominated by veterans. But his choppy transition is natural and expected. Still, talks prevail that New York is ready to ship out their youngest asset to the West Coast.
Sources say that the Phoenix Suns have been in a state of withdrawal since passing up Shumpert in the 2011 NBA draft, and in their most recent courting are offering small forward Jared Dudley and a future first-round pick to the Knicks.
Dudley is an appropriately-sized small forward at 6’7”, unlike Iman who should play most of his minutes shutting down other teams’ respective backcourts, who also fits well with the Knicks’ penchant for three-pointers. He also isn’t a bad defender in his own right and better fits with Woodson’s claim that “Young guys aren’t winning an NBA title.” But the Knicks badly need a more defensive mindset that Shumpert could help spearhead along with DYOP-candidate Tyson Chandler. An improved defense might be what lights a fire under the Heat’s feet.
Carmelo Anthony has gotten into the discussion, saying that the Knicks need to make no trades, but rumors are circulating that Shumpert is being shopped for matters that extend beyond basksetball. Woodson still affectionately calls him “Rooks,” and praised the finer points he brings to the Knickerbockers, but it’s been said that Shumpert might have a bad attitude.
If true, Shumpert’s faulty disposition should not be calculated into the Knicks’ plans. If winning the championship now is such a high priority, they would be better sticking with a defense specialist who has an incredible upside.
A history of bad Knicks management says that, like Dudley with a wide open corner three available, they pull the trigger.