While there's certainly no need to panic in Oklahoma City, the Thunder's last two losses have exposed a need for the Western Conference favorite: perimeter defense. Miami's Dwyane Wade and the Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford combined to score 60 points on 65 percent shooting from the floor in those games.
Granted, Wade and Crawford light up a lot of teams, but the fact is that, outside of starting 2-guard Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City provides very little resistance in the backcourt. That's why the Thunder were hoping to land Iman Shumpert before last Thursday's trade deadline.
Even after Shumpert suffered a strained left MCL in a Knicks loss last Wednesday, Oklahoma City was willing to part with this season's first-round draft pick to land the Knicks shooting guard, according to sources with knowledge of the trade discussions. The Knicks, however, refused to do the deal because they weren't getting a current player in return who could help them make a push for this season's Eastern Conference playoffs. At the end of the day, they deemed Shumpert more valuable than the 28th pick (or whatever low pick OKC gets) of the draft, sources said.
The Knicks' priority all along in trading Shumpert was to attach Raymond Felton's contract to the deal and get a solid point guard in return. That nearly happened with the Clippers.
While Shumpert's injury did not deter the Thunder, it did kill the Knicks' hopes of sending him to Los Angeles. Clippers coach Doc Rivers really wanted Shumpert, sources say, and Rivers was willing to do a deal that would have sent Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Byron Mullens and two second-round picks to New York for Shumpert, Felton and Beno Udrih. But Clippers owner Donald Sterling and others within the organization were hesitant to bet on Shumpert after seeing him go down in Wednesday's game at New Orleans, according to sources.
Shumpert's camp was hoping for a trade, but it can rest assured that he'll be back on the market around draft time.