The Nets officially signed free agent Iman Shumpert Wednesday as their 16th player, filling the replacement player exception created when Wilson Chandler was suspended for 25 games.
Brooklyn signed Shumpert after Caris LeVert went down with a right thumb sprain. The Nets fear LeVert may have sustained ligament damage during Sunday’s game in Phoenix. That could mean a lengthy absence. The big question now is whether he will need surgery. If he needs surgery, the Nets rising star could miss months. Enter Shumpert.
Shumpert, who last played for the Rockets in April, has yet to play in the NBA this season. He’ll have 15 games to prove himself with the Nets. On December 15, the Nets must make some roster adjustment to get down to 15 contract players plus the two two-ways.
For the 29-year-old, the deal is a comedown. Last year, he made $11 million playing for Sacramento and Houston. He played a played a key role for both, particularly for the young Kings, where he started 40 games, before being traded to the Rockets.
Entering the trade deadline, Shumpert was on pace for the best season since his rookie year, averaging 8.9 points and 2.2 assists per night on 38 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three for an above-.500 squad. As Dream Shake, the SB Nation Rockets blog, noted at seasons end, his time in Houston was a disappointment. Daryl Morey acquired him in hopes he’d work out as a 3-and-D specialist.
The eight-year veteran never found a rhythm, and all his numbers dropped dramatically, as Dream Shake noted...
His 4.6 points and 1.1 assists per game on 34.7 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three during his 20-game run in Rockets red during the season were all career worsts. And the team was 7.2 points better with him off the court— which was also a career worst.
Overall, Shumpert played in 62 games last year, shooting 37.4 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from the field. Still, the Rockets and Shumpert talked about him returning throughout the summer. By the time the two sides reached a final impasse in September, most rosters were full. (Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops reported that the Rockets had “reneged” on their initial offer.)
He’s played in 446 NBA games in his eight years with the Kings and Rockets as well the Knicks and Cavaliers, with averages of 7.3 points 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a steal per game. Throughout his career, he’s been asked to guard the opponents’ best wing.
As significant as his skills is his reputation in the locker room. Shumpert got a lot of credit for helping the young Kings mature the year and a half he spent in Sacramento. As Scott Davis, writing for Business Insider, pointed out last March, just after the trade that sent Shumpert to Houston.
The coaches, however, credit veteran guard Iman Shumpert for establishing a culture and setting an example for the team’s young players. The Kings traded Shumpert to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline, but [Rockets development center Larry] Lewis says his influence has remained.
”Shump did a lot of very good things for our team. Iman, he was an ice-breaker. He showed our guys a lot about what’s important on and off the floor. And I think he was very important in setting the tone. He’s in Houston now, but the lessons he taught the team are still there.”
Shumpert is familiar with two Nets. While he was with the Cavaliers, from the second half of the 2014 season until he was traded as part of a three-team trade in February 2018, Shumpert played with Kyrie Irving. Also on two of those teams was Joe Harris.
Shumpert and Irving won a championship with Cleveland in 2016, the second of three straight trips to the Finals. During the title run, Shumpert started 31 of his 76 games during the regular season, In the playoffs, he played in all 21 games and shot nearly 40 percent from three and provided defensive acumen.
In fact, Irving recommended the Nets take a look at Shumpert back in the days following the “Clean Sweep,” Now, three months later, they are now Nets teammates.
Shumpert, in addition to his 446 NBA games under his belt, is a safe signing for the Nets. As many expected, the replacement player the Nets would be looking to sign would be a stretch 4 caliber player, to help fill the spot with Chandler out.
The eight-year guard can fill in quite well for LeVert. Shumpert has a career shooting percentage of 39.3 percent from the field and 34 percent from three. In addition to his shooting, Shumpert is a defensive specialist, which will be a valuable asset in Brooklyn’s backcourt.
While waiting for a call, Shumpert has been working out with Chris Brickley, one of the NBA’s top personal trainers, In Brickley’s workout videos, Shumpert’s shooting, especially from three, is featured.
With Shumpert now signed as the 16th man on Brooklyn’s roster, a roster adjustment will be needed to make come Dec. 15. The Nets will need to waive or trade at least one player come that time. On that same day, Dec. 15, the free agents Brooklyn signed this offseason will be eligible to trade. The likely candidate to be waived or traded come that time will be Chandler.
Shumpert posted a photo of himself in Nets workout gear on Wednesday, indicating he’ll be ready to face the Nuggets Thursday night. The Nuggets, who have 4 of their last five games, will be a tough opponent for the Nets on their roadtrip.