Northwestern will have a player in the NBA when training camps open next month for the first time since Evan Eschmeyer retired. Howard Beck of the New York Times reports John Shurna has signed a one-year, partially guaranteed deal with the New York Knicks. Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that it is a minimum deal that will become fully guaranteed should Shurna remain on the roster past January 10.
Either way, this is a fantastic opportunity for Shurna and an offense that could really fit his skills. New York treasures shooters in whatever remnants of Mike D’Antoni’s free-wheeling offense. More than that though, the Knicks need shooters to spread the floor around Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Steve Novak, a similar player, found a lot of success in that offense last season. Shurna will certainly help if he can step up his defense and find a way onto the opening night roster.
Nothing is guaranteed. The Knicks have 16 players under contract and two other guys on partially guaranteed deals. Shurna will have to fight his way onto the roster. Teams can carry a maximum of 15 players.
Shurna is capable. Everyone has been doubting him his entire playing career, but he has silenced a lot of those doubters with consistently strong performances in the Big Ten. Last year, he had a career year posting 20.0 points per game and shooting 46.3 percent from the floor and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. Those are incredibly good numbers for a player relied on so much to create offense. He should be able to fit into a role for the Knicks even if he does not have the ball in his hands as much as he did in Northwestern.
This is somewhat surprising after he struggled playing for the Hawks in Summer League. Shurna scored only 3.8 points per game in 15.5 minutes per game during the five-game run in Las Vegas. He shot 31.6 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. It was not an encouraging showing.
But obviously he was better than that in his four years at Northwestern and probably in practices with Atlanta (he started three of those five games after all). He will have a chance to prove himself again in training camp.
And Shurna is not afraid of the spotlight. In two games at Madison Square Garden in 2010, Shurna scored 27.0 points per game and shot 59.4 percent from the field and 7 for 12 from beyond the arc. He will not be afraid of the bright lights of the Garden.
So good luck, John! Even those that cannot stand the Knicks among the Northwestern contingent will be cheering for you!
Oh, and in other news, Michael Thompson signed with France’s Le Havre. Congrats to Juice too, we will follow you in France this year! Kevin Coble also has signed with a team in Japan.