Which Valuable Young Asset Should Knicks Be Willing to Part With?

With the NBA trading deadline just over a week away, teams across the league must decide in the coming days whether they'll ultimately become buyers or sellers. From there on out, frantic abandon figures to break out as a result. Such teams will zero in and desperately aim to make the moves necessary to favor them one way or another.

More often than not, teams tend to fail at accomplishing such a feat when the clocks runs out. But sometimes, however, a smart front office or two is able to make quite the splash, or at the very least, a couple of key tweaks that are sure to help in the closing weeks of the season.

Whereas the Knicks certainly won't become "sellers," so to speak, it'll be interesting to see if they'll in fact become prospective "buyers" with hopes of securing a playoff spot at season's end. 

Ironically enough, it does appear that New York is running and gunning with that very goal in mind at this point. The team is reportedly (once again) exploring trades for the likes of Kenneth Faried and Kyle Lowry. 

Of course, a team must usually part with something good to get  something (else) of value back in return. In the case of the Knicks, their roster is not necessarily filled with valuable assets from A to Z, save for young guns like Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., and some future draft picks.

With that in mind, New York may not have as much flexibility as is probably desired when preparing to pull the trigger on a worthwhile deal. Still, the inevitable question remains: which of the Knicks' youngsters is easier and/or more sensible to part with? Shumpert or Hardaway Jr.?

The fact of the matter remains that, without a firm plan for potential future success in place, New York should by no means be making any deals that could affect the team's future much beyond this season. For argument's sake, however, let's dive in to the very question at hand.

There's no denying that Shumpert emerged as a fast fan-favorite early in his Knickerbocker tenure. He carries himself with a certain level of swagger, and is a fearless defender often capable of backing up his ambitious ways by helping lock down some of the more notable names the NBA has to offer.

Still, the Georgia Tech product has had his ups and downs as a Knick. He's been plagued by injuries along the way. What's more, Shumpert's proven to be an inconsistent player on the offensive end. He's not as assertive as he could be with the ball, and has failed to emerge as a reliable long-range shooting threat from beyond the arc. The guard's 38% shooting percentage from the field through 49 games this season represents a career-low.

On the flip side, Hardaway Jr. is an even fresher face on the Knicks' squad, and happens to excel in many of the areas in which Shumpert's production is lacking. He's averaging 9.2 points (on 46% from the field and 39% from deep), and has proven his ability to pour in the points on any given night with ease. Hardaway Jr. is an eccentric player who tends to be a bit overzealous at times, but perhaps some of that overeagerness is a good thing, because there's still plenty of time to channel it into something even healthier.

As it stands, this may not exactly be the best time for the Knicks to jump the gun and make a move. Of course the current season is at stake, but New York has its future to worry about as well. Not only could both of the aforementioned young guns be a part of it, but without a clear vision for what's to come, choosing to make a move in the dark could set the wheels in motion towards an even more negative direction for the Knicks. No one wants that.

Still, should the team feel the walls closing in on them while finding it hard to breathe, one can only hope that the Knicks see more light at the end of the tunnel when opting to hold onto Hardaway Jr., more so than Shumpert.

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the coming days.