Iman Shumpert: Playing for the Knicks Was Like Living in Hell

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Back on January 5, 2015, the flaming garbage truck filed with manure that is the New York Knicks added yet another installment to their collection of terrible, one-sided trades in which they found themselves on the short end.

This time, they armed the NBA Finals-bound Cleveland Cavaliers with two valuable rotation wings—J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert—and turned them into, essentially, a second-round pick and one and a half years of Lance Thomas.

Everyone except for the Knicks were winners in the three-team deal: the Cavs armed themselves with much-needed depth and a first-round pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who landed Dion Waiters from the Cavs before he played an important role in OKC's reaching last year's Western Conference Finals.

The players were winners too—just ask Shumpert, who was angry about being separated from his Knicks teammates but happy to go from a losing environment to a winning one.

Here's what he told HoopsHype about the deal:

I was never the new kid in school or anything, so this was the closest thing for me to changing schools and going through that. For me, it would’ve been cool if [things ended differently with the Knicks]. I was hurt when I got traded, so it would’ve been cool for me if I had at least gotten to play my last games with them. I was sitting out for like a month and by the time I got traded, it was a deflating feeling, especially with that season that we were having. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to help get us out of the hole, you know what I mean? (winces) I just felt bad and felt like we had dropped a bunch of games. I felt bitter that I had to leave on such a bad note. I just remember the feeling [sucked]. It was like, "Ah, I’m hurt, we’ve lost a bunch of games in a row and then I’m traded." Then, shortly after we walk in and we get to playing with the Cavs, we go on a long winning streak. I kept thinking back to my old teammates like, "Damn, I was hurt and we were losing. Now I come here and I’m playing well and the energy is great." I just felt like they kind of grabbed me out of hell. And every game was being showcased on TV and we’re winning. It was just crazy. I was happy, but I felt bad too.

The night of the trade, the Knicks got blown by the Memphis Grizzlies to drop to 5-32. They finished 17-65 on the year.

New York was 32-50 the following season, when Shumpert and Smith won the championship with Cleveland.

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