Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Knicks made NBA D-League headlines and history by sending six-time all-star Amar'e Stoudemire down to the NBADL. While the big man is merely practicing with the squad, young stud Iman Shumpert could be in line for a longer stint in Erie when he returns from an injury next month.
The Knicks made minor league headlines on Tuesday morning, when the team formally assigned six-time NBA all-star Amar'e Stoudemire to the D-League. New York has a light practice schedule this week, but with the big man looking to test his knee against tougher competition, the team thought it would be best to get Stoudemire some burn with the Erie BayHawks.
The Knickerbocker affiliate's roster is in town to use its parent squad's training facility. This made it quite simple for both Chris Copeland and James White to join STAT during Erie's practice as well. Fresh off a career-high 29 points in a losing effort to the Rockets, Copeland was formally "sent down," as was White, who prior to the season personally told us at RidiculousUpside.com that he had no plans of being in the D-League this season.
Granted, both Copeland and White are anticipated to be "back" with the Knicks and are furthermore, not expected to appear in any NBADL games. Assigning both players to the D-League seemed to be merely a formality in order for the pair to get an extra workout in on a day that the Knicks were otherwise taking it easy.
In the case of Stoudemire, the big man will not be permitted to don orange and blue on the hardwood until he stands tall at 100%. Could he ultimately appear in a game with the BayHawks in an effort to eventually reach full strength? Only time will tell.
Nevertheless, Stoudemire had a very positive attitude when it came to participating in practice and going through the motions with the NBADL squad. Because the opportunity was so well received by the man, Coach Mike Woodson asserted later on Tuesday that he would consider sending a Knicks player to the D-League for a rehab stint with Erie.
The said player was not Stoudemire, Copeland, or White, but rather young stud Iman Shumpert. The guard has been rehabbing from a knee injury of his own all season long, but is expected to make his return sometime in January.
The BayHawks' coaching staff has been around the Knicks' facility during team practices, and furthermore, have been in contact with New York's staff over the last few months. Erie head coach Gene Cross certainly knows what Woodson expects from, and attempts to pull out, of his players.
And that's why letting Shumpert don a BayHawks uniform for a bit may not be such a bad idea. Of course, our very own Gino Pilato suggested this be a strategy of choice around this time last month.
With the Knicks gelling and playing so well to start the season, New York would rather ease Stoudemire into the lineup without the risk of rocking the boat too much. The team should keep the same goal in mind with regard to Shumpert.
Whereas Stoudemire was able to get to know his new teammates on the court during training camp somewhat, Shumpert has been sidelined since last postseason. Regardless of whether or not he's 100% healthy, he'll need some additional time to perhaps shake the rust off.
That's exactly the type of opportunity playing for the BayHawks could provide the guard with. In addition to regaining his footing so that he can chase around quick and agile scorers while on defense, the D-League may also be a stage for Shumpert to also regain some of his scoring prowess.
Already known as a top-notch defender, the 22 year old's consistency on the offensive end came and went in spurts during his rookie campaign. Potentially being featured as a starring attraction in the NBADL for a week or so could help Shumpert develop a sweeter shooting stroke, and improve his fluidity in time for an NBA return.
It'll be interesting to see just how long Stoudemire's tenure in the D-League lasts, but as the Knicks continue to embrace its affiliate, it could soon be Iman Shumpert who benefits most from time in the minors.