The New York Daily News reports the potential swap of two players, who were 2011 first-round draft picks and 2012 All-Rookie First Team selections.
Talks between the Knicks and Nuggets centered around a deal that would send Iman Shumpert to Denver for forward Kenneth Faried have intensified in recent days, the Daily News has learned. According to a league source, no deal is imminent, although the struggling Knicks feel they need to make a move to bolster their banged-up front court.
ESPN.com also reports the talks.
The New York Knicks continue to engage in trade talks with the Denver Nuggets on a potential Iman Shumpert-for-Kenneth Faried trade, according to sources close to the process. But sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams have approached the Knicks with interest in Shumpert and said New York remains undecided about whether to trade its coveted perimeter defensive specialist.
It's believed one obstacle to potential deal is that Denver would also be seeking draft compensation in addition to Shumpert for Faried.
Shumpert, 23, was the No. 17 pick in 2011. A two-guard known for his defensive prowess, Shumpert holds career averages of 8.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals. After finishing among the league leaders in steals as a rookie, Shumpert suffered an ACL injury during the 2012 playoffs and missed nearly half of the 2012-13 season as he recovered. Shumpert is earning $1.7 million this season and the Knicks picked up his $2.6 million option for next year. He will be eligible for a rookie extension next summer.
Faried, 23, was taken No. 22 in 2011. What he lacks in traditional size he makes up for waith tireless energy and rebounding acumen. Faried holds career averages of 11 points and 8.6 rebounds; the 2013 Dunk Contest candidate can jump out of the gym to finish highlight plays, but his most valuable work is done on the offensive glass, where he was one of the league's most productive rebounders last season. Faried is earning $1.4 million this season and the Nuggets picked up his $2.2 million option for next year. He too will be eligible for a rookie extension next summer.
November is typically a dead time for trades, particularly moves involving popular rotation players with significant upside. Not every move fitting these criteria qualifies as being borne of panic, but that's the first impression stench until proven otherwise.
As it turns out, the season's first two weeks have seen cause for desperation with both the Knicks and Nuggets. In New York, owner Jim Dolan's championship vision has gotten off to a rocky 2-4 start, with starting center Tyson Chandler going down to injury, summer acquisition Andrea Bargnani playing boo-inducing basketball, and lineup questions popping up left and right. In Denver, last year's 57-win dream season has quickly been deflated with a 2-4 start, as starting center JaVale McGee is sidelined with an injury, and first-year coach Brian Shaw is struggling to mesh his philosophy with the talent on hand as he gets comfortable with a roster that's filled with new pieces.
Another potential motivating factor is financial. New York invested $17.9 million over three years in J.R. Smith this summer, and the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year responded by saying he was ready to embrace a starting role that had been Shumpert's. Meanwhile, Denver went way out on a limb to pay J.J. Hickson $16.1 million over three years this summer, and no team really needs both Hickson and Faried, as their strengths and deficiencies overlap considerably. Whether next summer or the one after, both Shumpert and Faried will be seeking lucrative rookie extensions. Do Smith and Hickson, respectively, stand in the way of their potential earning power in their current situations? Would New York and/or Denver prefer not to invest real money twice at the same position?
In the short-term, it's easy to see how the Knicks might conclude Faried is preferable to Shumpert, even if the latter is one of the most popular Knicks in recent memory. Faried's arrival would remove any reliance upon Amar'e Stoudemire, who has barely played this season due to knee injuries, and it would help compensate for Bargnani's woeful rebounding numbers. Faried certainly isn't the frontcourt defender that New York needs, but he should be able to get along fine once Chandler returns, and he would serve as a capable interior scoring option when defenses overload on Carmelo Anthony. New York has both Smith and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. to fill Shumpert's minutes, and his departure could also allow coach Mike Woodson to experiment more with a two point guard lineup.
Parting ways with a young prospect, even if it's for another young prospect, requires a look to the future. Faried would make some sense longer-term, too. He would be set to hit restricted free agency in 2015, just as New York's books would clear up thanks to the expiration of big-dollar contracts belonging to Stoudemire, Chandler and Bargnani. The Knicks would be in a position to retain him if they choose or go a different direction if a bigger fish emerges in free agency.
As has often been the case recently, it's not clear what Denver is thinking here. Shaw has moved Faried in and out of the starting lineup this season, cutting his minutes in the process. Following the summer loss of Andre Iguodala, it's understandable that the Nuggets would want a perimeter stopper, and Shumpert would have plenty of room to flourish given that Denver isn't totally invested in any of the other available guard options (Randy Foye, Evan Fournier and Nate Robinson). But trading Faried for Shumpert, without meaningful additional compensation, would be selling low on one of the league's promising young bigs, especially considering Shumpert's injury history, and New York owes multiple future picks in other deals that would complicate its ability to sweeten this pot.
The roster sifting process is just beginning for this new Nuggets management team, but exercising patience in the face of their disappointing offseason is an absolute must. Big picture, Faried on a rookie deal is one of the Nuggets' top three assets, the type of piece they shouldn't be parting with unless they are receiving a bonafide core piece in return. Shumpert isn't quite that, and Denver would be better served to take its time here and find a way to make the most out of Faried's potential. Update (Wednesday): Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nuggets are not engaged in "active talks" involving Faried and that they rejected a proposal involving Shumpert, so it appears they reached the same conclusion.