Iman Shumpert was never known for his offensive prowess. After Kyrie Irving went down with an injury in Game 1 of the NBA Finals after the Cleveland Cavaliers had already lost Kevin Love, though, there were measured expectations for the flat-topped guard to provide LeBron James with some ancillary offensive punch.
But it never came, as Shumpert averaged a measly 6.5 points per game on 25.6 percent shooting over all and 32 percent from beyond the arc. Those major struggles not only contributed to the Cavaliers’ team-wide scoring labors against the Golden State Warriors, but presented another problem for the 24-year-old, too: They came in advance of his restricted free agency.
As the dust begins to settle on 2014-2015 and the league looks ahead to another offseason, however, it seems there was more to Shumpert’s offensive woes than met the eye. According to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the Cavaliers’ guard was shot up with painkillers during the championship series to stave off effects of shoulder and groin injuries.
[Shumpert] was shot up with painkillers before Game 4 of the NBA Finals in order to continue playing through the excruciating pain of a bruised shoulder, a source revealed, and he may have been injected more than once during the Finals.
Though he was still in agonizing discomfort, he returned to the game in the second quarter. An MRI exam the next morning confirmed the bruise. Had it been the regular season, I’m told he would have been sidelined 2-3 weeks.
Shumpert re-injured his left shoulder – he originally dislocated as member of the New York Knicks in November – during the first quarter of Game 3 after taking a hard screen from Draymond Green. Though he went to the locker room for evaluation and stayed there for a significant amount of time, he returned to the game in the second quarter. The Georgia Tech product was already limited by a groin stain he suffered in the second round versus the Chicago Bulls, too.
Fortunately, Shumpert won’t require summer surgery on either of his injuries, a major relief considering the financial stakes at hand come next month. As a plus defender with respectable three-point range and at least some room for improvement, he’s due a major pay raise – and it will likely come from the Cavaliers.
General Manager David Griffin is extremely fond of Shumpert and plans to retain him. He loves his work ethic and competitive edge, but so do others.
Expect Shumpert to receive a multi-year deal with an approximate salary of $8-10 million. While that seems pricey for a player of his caliber on the surface, it’s crucial to account for the salary cap boom that will take place in advance of 2017 and 2018 when assessing newly signed contracts. Shumpert’s solid relationship with James makes retaining him extra attractive for Cleveland, too.
He didn’t play his best in the Finals, but Shumpert proved his worth to the Cavaliers nonetheless. And if he’s healthy going forward, there’s a good chance he’ll live up to the lucrative deal he’ll no doubt receive