Why the Houston Rockets won’t miss Iman Shumpert

Houston Rockets Iman Shumpert (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Iman Shumpert (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

News broke Tuesday morning that Iman Shumpert declined an offer to return to the Houston Rockets. Given that his time with the team was a failed experiment, the decision might be mutually beneficial.

Last February, the Houston Rockets took part in a three-team deal that landed them veteran shooting guard Iman Shumpert from the Sacramento Kings. Per NBA.com, James Harden gave his thoughts on the deal at the time, expressing his excitement with the defense, ball-handling, and shooting Shump could bring to the team. An NBA champion in 2016, the hope was that Iman could bring some of his veteran presence to the Rockets as they navigate the tough Western Conference.

While he certainly had his moments, Iman never really fit in with the Rockets as well as expected. The Georgia Tech standout played in just 20 games for the team, averaging 19 minutes per appearance. During that short stint, Iman averaged 4.6 points per game along with 2.7 rebounds, shooting 34.7 percent from the field. Defensively, the swingman also didn’t shine as well as expected.

Given his struggles to establish himself in Houston, it came as no surprise when Shams Charania reported Iman Shumpert was declining the contract offer from the team:

After months of discussions, free agent Iman Shumpert has decided to decline the Rockets' contract offer, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Shumpert will not attend team minicamp this week in Las Vegas.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 17, 2019

Houston Rockets beat writer Kelly Iko also reported that Iman was fully expecting to remain with the team, but both sides couldn’t quite agree on terms. With Shump’s rejection of the Rockets’ offer, the odds are the two will be parting ways and moving on from one another.

Given that the Houston Rockets picked up a superstar in Russell Westbrook at the guard position, plus have guys like Austin Rivers and Gerald Green that have been more effective than Shumpert in recent years, the loss isn’t a huge one. While Iman was certainly worth a shot last season, sometimes two sides just don’t mesh.

Mike D’Antoni has a habit of playing his starters heavy minutes, and with the addition of Westbrook, that would have pushed Shumpert even further down the rotation. While Shump still has the capability to be a force in the open court, he is no Russell Westbrook. Perhaps Iman saw the writing on the wall that he likely wouldn’t get much playing time this season.

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It will be interesting to see if another team sees a need for the veteran guard and looks to scoop him up before the season starts in just over a month.