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This has to be Iman Shumpert's year

Yesterday, we saw the predictable report that Iman Shumpert is not negotiating a contract extension with the Knicks, who would rather let him reach restricted free agency next summer. And that was the last question Shump took today from Tommy Beer: Some of Shumpert's 2011 draft classmates have gotten extensions (including both Morris brothers today)-- is he also talking about an extension with the Knicks?

"No. All I've been thinking about is making the playoffs, sir."

...which is a fine response, I think. He still knows what he's playing for on an individual level. This is THE year for Shumpert. It has to be, for his own sake.

Shump's career began with a lockout and has since wandered from its ideal trajectory, hampered by some combination of injuries, organizational upheaval, role changes, and simple stagnation. And now, out of several Knicks facing contract years, Shumpert finds himself at the crossroad with the broadest range of avenues. At 24, he's young enough to improve substantially, yet old enough that a reporter caught him a bit off-guard with a question suggesting he's a "veteran" who might guide the younger guys on the team.

Shump didn't know quite how to answer that one (and got interrupted by a fly buzzing around his flat-top), but gave the most direct responses we heard all day to some other questions. Guys rarely reveal exactly what they worked on all summer, but Shump repeated something we'd heard prior-- that he focused on becoming less of a "two-foot jumper." He spent hours this summer leaping off either foot to improve his "reactivity" and afford him more chances to attack the "small window for a quick layup or a quick dunk."

It's troubling that Shump still has knee-related qualms, but encouraging that he's identified and attempted to hone a major fault in his game. He'd be a deadlier player if he could finish with any regularity.

Asked about his defense, Shump sounded pleased to have a defensive guard for a coach, noting that he'd like to emulate Derek Fisher by gambling less for steals. Pressed further on that topic, Shump passed on an opportunity to back the bus over Mike Woodson, suggesting that last season's doubling, switching, and freelancing was partly the Knicks' scheme and partly him being "overly aggressive" when Woodson trusted him to use his "own judgment."

Ultimately, Shump described himself as optimistic after a summer spent training at IMG in Florida:

That's all. Iman Shumpert gave Media Day's most interesting answers, confirmed he isn't in extension talks, suggested "y'all need some bug spray or something," then departed. As we speak, Shump's headed to West Point, where he'll participate in his first full-length training camp not preceded by an offseason knee procedure. There begins a season with a whole spectrum of potential outcomes: full health or further setbacks, a solid role or continued uncertainty, and, ultimately, a big contract offer or a mere chance to stick in the New York or elsewhere.