Following his shutdown of the Bulls’ Derrick Rose in the Knicks’ 100-99 overtime Garden win on Sunday, Shumpert wrote on Twitter: “Dear Donny (sic) Walsh. Thank you for giving me a chance!!’’
Shumpert, a Chicago native, was excited after making life miserable for Rose, who was forced into a 8-for-26 brickfest in his comeback from a 12-game injury absence. Shumpert, who played a lot of point guard on Sunday, will be sent at Rose tonight in the rematch at United Center. Shumpert’s defense on Rose is one key reason the Knicks match up better against Chicago than Miami in the playoffs.
“They’re a good team where they fight throughout the whole game,” Rose said. “If we do play them, it will be a fun series.”
Walsh selected Shumpert with the 17th pick last June, and Shumpert has become one of the steals of the draft. He has become one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and has a strong shot at being named NBA First Team All-Rookie.
Walsh, a part-time club consultant looking to return to full-time front office work with another franchise, appreciated the shoutout.
“He can be a monster defensively and will continue to get better offensively,’’ Walsh wrote in an email to The Post. “He has a bright future. He is playing well enough to be considered first team.’’
It isn’t surprising Shumpert is taking this Rose assignment to heart. During the lockout, Shumpert penned a diary for The Post, and in one entry he wrote:
“I have been a Bulls fan my whole life. Growing up in the Chicago area, I naturally want to play against Derrick Rose. I was younger than him, and our high school [Oak Park River Forest] got knocked out of the state tournament in the semifinals right before we would have played his school [Simeon]. Now I’ll finally get to play him.”
With Baron Davis still gimpy with a bum hamstring and knee and Toney Douglas inconsistent, Shumpert, who starts at small forward, will see more and more time at backup point guard.
“That’s a big-time option for us,’’ Mike Woodson said. “I feel comfortable with him handling the basketball and getting us into things. It makes us bigger, and we can switch more defensively.’’
That means Shumpert’s minutes are on the rise. He played 45 Sunday.
“I don’t really care,’’ Shumpert said. “I don’t really want to come out. I want to live in the moment.”
***Amar’e Stoudemire made the trip to Chicago and Milwaukee. Tomorrow makes two weeks since the Knicks announced Stoudemire’s 2-to-4 week timetable to return from a bulging disk, but he is not expected to entertain suiting up until the weekend.
***Woodson has gone ga-ga over finishing games with J.R. Smith over starter Landry Fields, even when Smith is shooting bricks. Smith was 5-for-22 on Sunday. Fields was 5-for-11, but was benched the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter and all of overtime while Smith nearly shot the Knicks out of contention.
“I don’t think it’s a trust issue,’’ Fields said. “He’s going with guys he feels will work at that time. I am sure he has trust with everyone on the bench. All we can worry about is being ready.’’
After the Knicks’ collapse against the Pacer last Tuesday, Woodson said he was “slapping himself’’ for not putting Fields back during the fourth while Smith stunk out all of Indy.
***New hire Larry Johnson said assistant GM Allan Houston will show him the ropes in front-office duties. LJ will do a lot of community relations and player development and see where he fits in best.
“Front office, I’ll be like a puppy,’’ the ex-Knick said. “I’ll be really around Allan. Allan can really direct me here and there. I don’t know nearly what I’m doing. Around the players and community, I’ll just be myself.’’
Johnson is a good friend of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was a Knicks assistant during the LJ years. Thibodeau, the reigning Coach of the Year, hasn’t signed a contract extension yet with the Bulls, though negotiations reportedly continue. He is represented by C.A.A.’s William Wesley.
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