By MATT FALKENBURY
Special to ZAGSBLOG
GREENBURGH, N.Y — For Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, London is callling.
Coach Mike Woodson made it clear that only an unforeseen setback will keep Shumpert from making his season debut across the pond in the clash against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
“He looks good, we’ll take it a day at a time,” Woodson said Monday. “We will see how he feels [Tuesday]. We just got to make sure that he doesn’t have any setbacks. If [there are no setbacks], he will play Thursday against the Pistons.”
Shumpert, who has been out all season after tearing his ACL during the playoffs against Miami, can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m extremely excited. I’ll probably get chills, be a little anxious out there,” Shumpert said. “But I hope to have it settled down and be ready to play.”
With Raymond Felton sidelined (fractured pinky) and Jason Kidd struggling — as well as games coming up against big-time point guards like Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holliday — the return of Shumpert could not come at a better time for the Knicks.
The Knicks have struggled defensively recently, giving up 100+ points in seven of their past eight losses. Shumpert’s quickness can help with that and his energy can help with the slow starts the Knicks have had, falling behind after one quarter in 11 of the past 12 games.
“I can apply pressure to guards both offensively and defensively,” Shumpert said. “So that’s what I’m looking to add.”
The Knicks should arrive in London on Tuesday morning after practicing Monday evening. There will be a voluntary practice on Tuesday and a full practice, including contact, on Wednesday before game on Thursday.
The Knicks are expected to ease Shumpert back into the rotation, much like they have with Amar’e Stoudemire, playing him off the bench for the time being.
Shumpert has bought into the mantra that Woodson has preached ever since he took over as coach.
“I don’t really care,” Shumpert said of a bench role. “I feel like we’ve got a team that could win a championship; that’s all I ever wanted.”