NEW ORLEANS -- Iman Shumpert could have been playing his last game as Knick Wednesday night as trade talks involving him seemed to be picking up steam.
But those talks could have come to a screeching halt when Shumpert sprained his surgically repaired left knee in the third quarter of the Knicks' win over the Pelicans.
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Shumpert had to be helped off the court and is flying back to New York to be re-evaluated.
"It's just frustrating," Shumpert said. "Injury after injury -- it's been a frustrating year."
The NBA trade deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday and Shumpert and Raymond Felton were the players the Knicks had been offering around the league the most, hoping to get a point guard in return.
One scenario that has been discussed is sending Shumpert and Felton to the Clippers for quick backup point guard Darren Collison. There would have to be other pieces coming back to the Knicks to make the trade work under salary-cap rules, perhaps Matt Barnes.
The Clippers were interested in doing Shumpert for Collison straight up. They need a shooting guard with JJ Redick sidelined indefinitely with a bulging disc in his back, but they may not want Shumpert now that it appears he will miss some time.
Shumpert said he was feeling pain on the side of his knee. The Knicks' medical staff said it wasn't his ACL, which he tore during the 2012 playoffs. But he still was down and sounded concerned.
"It didn't seem like it was bad when I looked at it," Shumpert said. "Let's hope it's not."
Mike Woodson also sounded concerned about Shumpert, and hopes surgery won't be necessary. "It's unfortunate," he said. "I love everything about Iman. I know it's been a rough season for him. But we need him because I still think he does things that we like. We just got to wait and see the severity of the injury."
Woodson may love Shumpert's game, but the organization is fond of J.R. Smith and sees rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. as a building block, making Shumpert expendable.
The Knicks have been trying to package Felton with Shumpert because teams aren't banging down their doors for Felton. They want to upgrade the point guard position, and Felton alone probably won't get the Knicks much in return.
Their hope was to improve enough to make a playoff run and also pick up some assets and flexibility for future moves. But the clock is ticking and with Shumpert's health in question, time could be running out.
"I don't know if anything is happening at this point," Woodson said.
Carmelo Anthony, who said he expected management to speak to him if the Knicks were close to making a trade, didn't think anything was happening. He said he hadn't spoken to team officials Wednesday.
"Right now we haven't heard anything that's worth talking about, anybody leaving or anything like that," Anthony said.
Felton and Shumpert have had disappointing seasons, which has lowered their trade value. Shumpert obviously has more because he's only 23 and a versatile a two-way player who could flourish with a change of scenery.
The Knicks could still try to move Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. Both are out of Woodson's rotation, although Woodson said they could be back in it with Shumpert sidelined.
Collison was the latest point guard the Knicks have tried to acquire. The others are Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague and Andre Miller. The Knicks also have tried to pry forward Kenneth Faried from Denver.
The Knicks dream scenario is getting Rondo to put with Anthony, who will be a free agent this summer. But without first-round picks to include in a trade the Knicks don't have enough to get that done.
They don't want to take back salaries that would take a big chunk out of the 2015 space the Knicks have and hope to use on stars such as Rondo, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge. Collison has a $1.95 million player option for next season, so he could be a free agent in 2015.Collison has played on four teams in five seasons, and has career averages of 11.8 points and 4.9 assists. He has a $1.95- million player option for next season, so he could be a free agent in 2015. Barnes, a tough-nosed player, is owed $3.4 million next season with a team option for 2015-16.
If the Knicks made that trade they still would be able maintain their cap space for the big summer of 2015.
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