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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / October 23.
  • Knicks to Face Big Decision With Shumpert

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    NEW YORK –
    – The day is coming, and it may not be too far off, when Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni will have to make a choice regarding rookie guard Iman Shumpert.

    D’Antoni can either insert the energetic Shumpert into the starting lineup for the struggling Landry Fields.

    Or the coach can continue to bring Shumpert off the bench because, well, the Knicks hardly have any bench at all.

    “Yeah, Iman’s bringing a lot of energy,” Amar’e Stoudemire said following the team’s disheartening 118-110 loss Wednesday to the Charlotte Bobcats at MSG.

    “He’s young, he’s athletic, he’s energetic. He has a certain swagger about himself that’s contagious. He reminds me of myself when I was a rookie with so much energy and it’s great.”

    In his first game back since spraining his right MCL on Christmas Day, Shumpert scored 18 points in 30 minutes off the bench and finished +1.

    The first time he touched the ball he hit a pull-up 3-pointer, and then followed that with another 3 in transition.

    Shumpert later threw down a crowd-pleasing dunk of Charlotte rookie Bismack Biyombo.

    He left the game in the fourth quarter with cramps in both legs triggered by fatigue and dehydration, but said in the locker room, “I’m fine.”

    On a night when both Stoudemire and Shumpert returned from injuries, Shumpert was about the only bright spot for the Knicks.

    The crowd chanted, “We want Shum-pert” when he was taken out by D’Antoni with 3:50 left in the fourth.

    “I’m just glad I didn’t hurt his knee,” D’Antoni said.

    While Shumpert excelled off the bench, the remainder of the Knick bench managed just six points, all by Bill Walker.

    And therein lies the rub.

    If Shumpert is inserted into the starting lineup, it could weaken an already ineffective bench.

    After a 14-point, 12-rebound game Saturday as a starter against Sacramento, Josh Harrellson was ineffective for a second straight game off the bench and played just three-plus minutes.

    When point guard Baron Davis (herniated disc) is healthy enough to play, he will likely begin by coming off the bench, which should provide a jolt.

    Meantime, while Shumpert provides punch, Fields generally does not.

    He scored just five points on 2-for-5 shooting and finished -21 across 25 minutes.

    Though he went for a season-best 21 against Sacramento on Saturday, Fields has scored fewer than 10 points in four of the Knicks’ six games.

    And he’s the starting shooting guard.

    “It’s early and we got a lot of season ahead of us,” Fields said, speaking generally about the team. “Of course there’s some frustrations because we want to do so well but in these rough patches we’re trying to get better.”

    Going forward, D’Antoni must decide if the best way to make the team better is by putting Shumpert into the starting lineup, or utilizing the rookie as the top gun off the bench.

    Photo: Barton Silverman, New York Times

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.