Iman Shumpert has started his last 62 games, including all 45 last season. Yet, Knicks coach Mike Woodson is not guaranteeing him a starting spot this season.
That seems like a motivational ploy, and if so, it’s working.
Shortly after he hit his third 3-pointer of the first half on Wednesday night, Iman Shumpert walked off the court and headed to the bench with a message for his teammates.
“I’m pissed off early this year,” Shumpert yelled.
“I got a chip on my shoulder,” Shumpert said.
Woodson has to be proud his motivation plan – if that’s what it is – is yielding positive results. Shumpert is dedicated to be at his best, and now it’s time for the coach to ease up and offer a little positive reinforcement.
“Iman’s just playing. There’s nothing to prove to me,” he said. “In fairness to J.R., too, J.R. is a big part of what we do. He’s going to be right in the mix as soon as he comes back from his injury, so it’s going to be competitive in terms of everybody getting minutes.”
As a reminder, that’s the J.R. Smith whom Woodson just said must grow up. That’s the J.R. Smith who waited to have surgery until signing his contract. That’s the J.R. Smith who will miss the first five games of next season due to suspension.
Shumpert is doing everything right, and he still can’t elevate himself over Smith.
Either Woodson really doesn’t trust Shumpert in the starting lineup or Woodson is going all the way with this mind game.