Tomorrow the New York Knicks will usher in the Phil Jackson Era. The Knicks have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow in which they’re expected to announce Phil Jackson as the new President of Basketball Operations. The franchise and its fans hope that this will turn around an organization that has largely snuggled in mediocrity and controversy for the better part of the last 14 years.
Of course, this move hopes to stabilize a team whose player decision moves have, again, largely been questionable. The Knicks lag behind many teams in the league in understanding the importance of draft picks, developing young players, and maintaining cap space. Phil Jackson, according to a New York Post report, supposedly understands those concepts, especially with regards to Iman Shumpert:
Now Shumpert appears to have a legitimate future with Phil Jackson’s Knicks. According to a league source, Jackson is a fan of Shumpert.
Shumpert is a defensive-minded player who sacrifices his game and doesn’t need to score a lot to have an impact.
“Iman is still part of this,’’ a league source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking told The Post.
The report indicates that Shumpert, who has struggled mightily this season, was set to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline in exchange for Darren Collison and Matt Barnes. However, the Knicks, wanting to pick up a win in New Orleans the night before, played Shumpert who subsequently sprained his MCL in the game. The Clippers backed off, fearing a worse injury, and Shumpert remained a Knick.
And despite Shumpert’s generally lousy numbers this season, he still has considerable value, and if the report is to be believed, Jackson recognizes that. For his career, Shumpert’s per-36-minutes numbers hang around 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 35% shooting from beyond the arc. Those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers by any means, but they’re worthwhile from a player still on his rookie contract. Furthermore, despite a disappointing season, this year Shumpert is the only Knicks player who plays consistently to have an on-court net rating of over 3. Players who ahead of him like Kenyon Martin, Cole Aldrich, and Earl Clark haven’t played on a nightly basis like Shumpert. Even if Shumpert’s per-game stats aren’t impressive, he still has value on the court in advanced analytics.
Shumpert grew up a fan of Phil Jackson’s Chicago Bulls teams in the ’90s, and has glowed about the opportunity to work with him. Hopefully through some on- and off-court changes, the Knicks can maximize Shumpert’s potential and value and keep him around for a long time.
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