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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Opening Tip: Shump in Phil's future plans?

By Ian Begley

For most of the season, it seemed as if Iman Shumpert's days as a Knick were numbered.

Shumpert’s name was floated in several trade rumors throughout the first few months of the year. The Knicks nearly completed a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers to flip Shumpert for Darren Collison prior to the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

It seemed at the time that the Knicks would revisit talks to trade Shumpert at some point in the 2014 offseason.

But the team then hired Phil Jackson to serve as president. And the thinking on Shumpert changed.

ESPN New York reported that Shumpert was one of the players that impressed Jackson when he watched the team before being hired.

The New York Post also reported, citing a league source, that Shumpert is still “part” of the Knicks’ future.

Jackson mentioned Shumpert by name when speaking with reporters last week, praising the third-year guard’s effort on the defensive end in the Knicks’ win over Brooklyn.

Why would Phil love Shumpert?

One source with knowledge of Jackson’s thinking says he likes how Shumpert could fit into his triangle offense and serve as a catalyst for the Knicks on defense.

Jackson has used big guards in the triangle in the past. The name most often mentioned when talking about the 6-foot-5 Shumpert is Ron Harper.

Jackson also stressed in his chat with reporters last week how much he values players applying pressure on defense. Shumpert’s widely regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league.

According to a new metric that measures a player’s defensive value, Shumpert is the third-best defender among shooting guards in the NBA.

“I think Phil sees his value on both ends of the floor,” the source said.

So it appears that Shumpert has Jackson in his corner. But can the Zen Master unlock Shumpert’s potential on offense?

Knicks
Knicks third-year guard Iman Shumpert could be a key piece in President Phil Jackson's grand plan.
The former first-round pick has shown in brief stretches that he can provide a scoring punch. He averaged 20.8 points on 68.8 percent shooting over a three-game stretch in early January.

But Shumpert has been wildly inconsistent on offense for much of the season.

Shumpert's per-game scoring (6.6 points) and shooting percentage (38 percent) have regressed this year.

Which leads us to the question: Do you believe Shumpert can thrive with the Knicks under Jackson’s guidance?

Up now: Ex-Knicks coach Larry Brown was critical of the organization for its handling of Mike Woodson. He also questioned GM Steve Mills’ basketball knowledge.

Carmelo Anthony says the Knicks will “hope and pray” that the Hawks lose enough games to give New York a chance to make the postseason.

What’s next: The Knicks will have a few days off before playing in Toronto on Friday.

Question: Do you believe Iman Shumpert can thrive with the Knicks under Phil Jackson’s guidance?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.