With the season only weeks from starting a stench seems to be emanating from the Garden, and it all seems to be centered on SG, Iman Shumpert.
During Shumpert’s rookie year, you couldn’t find one negative thing leaked about him. He was praised for his athleticism, his versatility and his unstoppable motor, which resulted in great play on both sides of the ball. However, after returning from an ACL tear, that tune has slowly been changing.
Now we only hear what Shumpert doesn’t do, or according to Mike Woodson, what he needs to clean up in order to remain a key component to this team. The treatment, which seemed to begin last season, only intensified during this past summer.
If you recall, even though Shumpert had proved by season’s end that he was clearly the 2nd best player on the team, it seemed peculiar that the organization would ask him to participate in Summer League, especially after not experiencing any set-backs from his return from ACL surgery. The excuse was to see Shumpert’s command of the PG position, but he had already successfully demonstrated that skill set for the D’Antoni/Walsh run Knicks, so let me ask you, wasn’t videotape available? Obviously Shumpert felt the same and left Vegas after what turned out to be a cameo appearance, infuriating owner James Dolan, which is not the best thing to do!
Ever since that bit of information was leaked (Dolan wasn’t happy with Shumpert’s Vegas stint), there’s been a slew of negativity surrounding everything Shump similar to when the owner wasn’t happy with former Knick Latrell Sprewell, who famously walked out of a mandatory media session along with Marcus Camby. The level of skill those players possessed meant little to nothing once they stroked the eerie of Dolan.
Now can the same fate be awaiting Shumpert? Who knows, but I always found it a little disrespectful that Coach Woodson still referred to him as “Rook” even after recovering from an ACL tear and was deep into his 2nd year. While some understood Woodson’s playful jab, I for one didn’t because it seemed a calculated way for Woodson to justify playing J.R. Smith over Shumpert. Am I being too sensitive?
Finally people are starting to see the unfair treatment after Woodson, who could be under orders from the Steve Mills/Dolan tandem, announced that Shumpert would have to compete for the starting SG position with J.R. Smith. Smith, who was suspended during last year’s playoffs, accused of excessive partying during the playoffs, withheld an injury from the team during contract negotiations to ensure a long-term deal, and then was suspended 5 games for violating NBA Drug policy, was going to compete for the starting job? What?
For a notoriously tight-lipped organization, the fact that these negative stories are now being floated only tells you that Shumpert’s time as a Knicks might be coming to an end really soon. Was it the summer league fiasco, or is it simply because they do not want any players associated with Donnie Walsh in the building? That can’t be right can it?
With Steve Mills and James Dolan at the top, I wouldn’t put anything past them, but it still would be a shame to lose a player on the verge of becoming special. Is there any wonder why our championship drought is entering it’s 41st season!