I’m not sure if the Knicks’ tanking of the 2014-15 season just went from unintentional to “quite intentional (but who can really tell?)”. If you thought Carmelo Anthony was the club’s sole tradable asset, Phil Jackson has just proven you wrong, sending J.R. Smith (above) and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland in exchange for Lance Thomas, Alex Kirk, Louis Amundsen and a 2019 second round pick. What would possess Phil to toss the useful Shumpert to the struggling Cavs for so little in return? As Posting & Toasting’s Seth Rosenthal accurately points out, “the Knicks want space”, and J.R. is pretty much the definition of wasting said space.
The Knicks, it appears, wanted to dump J.R.’s money and didn’t intend to make a serious bid for Shump in restricted agency this summer, so now the roster is utterly empty, this season and next. Just eyeballing it, their salary figures sits closer to $30 million than $40 million next season.
On one hand, I love Iman Shumpert and have enjoyed J.R. Smith and am sad to see two consistently entertaining personalities and talented players off my favorite team. On the other hand, I think getting rid of J.R. was a need and losing Shump was a foregone conclusion. To me, the Knicks traded space for more space, plus a future second-rounder. Should they have held out for more assets in return? Maybe, but it’s clear that emptiness trumps all else for these Knicks. They’re gonna have a lot of it. Dad is leaning hard into this plan.