In a bit of a surprise move, the Nets dumped “Shump” on Thursday. That is to say they waived Iman Shumpert, who had been described as a “sparkplug” by coach Kenny Atkinson. The move was made to create roster room for the return of Wilson Chandler, who must serve the final game of a 25-game suspension when the Nets are in Toronto on Saturday but is expected to play against the 76ers on Sunday.
The Nets signed Shumpert to a one-year, minimum-salary contract on Nov. 13, using the extra roster spot they were allowed for the final 20 games of Chandler’s suspension for use of a banned substance. Although the nine-year veteran struggled at the offensive end, averaging 4.2 points and shooting 32.8% overall and 24.2% from three-point range, he provided a physical brand of perimeter defense that contributed to the Nets’ 9-4 record in games he played.
But every other Nets contract is guaranteed, and general manager Sean Marks clearly reinforced his long-term commitment to several young players on the roster over the short-term gain Shumpert provided both on the court and with his vocal locker-room presence. The improved play of David Nwaba, a strong defender who lately has contributed on offense, and Theo Pinson’s ability to provide point guard depth while Kyrie Irving remains sidelined with a shoulder injury also were factors. Under collective-bargaining rules, Pinson is not eligible for a two-way contract with the Nets and could not have been waived and re-signed.
Shumpert posted on Twitter to thank the Nets for the opportunity they gave him, saying: “The Brooklyn Nets are a first-class organization from top to bottom. It was great to be with you guys even for the short stay! I’m around.”
There never was any consideration given to waiving Chandler, who is on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, because the 12-year veteran provides depth at power forward, three-point shooting and a defensive presence.
Atkinson recently made it clear that Chandler will play Sunday against the 76ers. “He’ll be thrown to the wolves, so to speak,” said Atkinson, who was an assistant with the Knicks when Chandler played for them. “I feel comfortable. He knows the system. How long is it going to take to get his rhythm? Hopefully, his experience will get him up to speed there.”
The 6-8, 235-pound Chandler is a career 34.3% three-point shooter who can stretch the floor and provide strength on defense backing up Taurean Prince. “He’s a strong and physical guy, and he’s a mature player,” Atkinson said. “I think it’ll help us improve.”
Anticipating the roster move before it was made, Atkinson added, “It’s tough decisions when you are playing well.”
That comment came before the Nets blew a 20-point lead over the Hornets on Wednesday.
“It’s a wake-up call,” Jarrett Allen said of the meltdown. “We’re going to have to prepare extra hard for the next game. We look at our mistakes and improve on them.”