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NBA AM: Blazers’ Felton Wants Long-Term Deal
Posted By Lang Greene On January 19, 2012 @ 7:43 am In All,NBA | No Comments
The Portland Trail Blazers made it a top priority to bolster their backcourt since the end of last season, trading for veteran guard Raymond Felton on draft night, selecting Nolan Smith in the first round of the draft and lastly by signing former Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford to a two-year deal during free agency.
Felton began last season with the resurgent New York Knicks, playing at a level which generated some All-Star buzz before he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster.
At the end of this season the Blazers will once again have to make a major decision regarding their backcourt, as Felton is in the last year of his current deal and is set to become a free agent.
Felton readily lets it be known if the decision were up to him, he would be donning a Trail Blazers uniform over the long term.
“They [Blazers officials] know I want to be here,” Felton told HOOPSWORLD. “I’ve told them that and we talked about it earlier in the summer so they know that already. I love it here in Portland. I want to be here leading the team. I feel like we have a winning team here, so hopefully we can get something done.”
Entering the league back in 2005 Felton toiled for years on the expansion Charlotte Bobcats and had to adjust to plenty of losing. However in his last three stops with New York, Denver and Portland each team entered their respective seasons with legitimate postseason aspirations.
Despite becoming accustomed to winning as of late, Felton wouldn’t rule out signing with a team in rebuilding mode if a deal cannot be reached with Portland – his first choice.
“I can’t say where I won’t go or where I’ll go because I just want to play basketball,” Felton said. “At the same time, a person wants to get what they feel like they’re worth and deserve.”
Through fourteen contests with the Blazers this season Felton is averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. Solid overall numbers when viewed at the top level, however he is shooting a subpar 35 percent from the floor and just 16 percent from three-point range. He’s also been prone to turnovers at inopportune times early in the season.
The veteran is the first to admit he hasn’t been as consistent as he would like, but it’s clear the lockout has had a very unfavorable effect on point guards – especially those making the transition to new teams.
“I’m not where I want to be,” Felton told HOOPSWORLD. “I won’t say [the lockout] impacted me the most but you know it takes you time to get used to playing with guys. Learning a new system and just being in a new system with a new coach getting a feel for him and what he wants from you and then trying to learn everybody on the team. Being a point guard you have to learn everybody’s position. You have to know where they want the ball. How they want the ball. It takes time to learn guys the way you want to. I’m comfortable, but I definitely want to be much better with it.”
Channing Frye, Suns “Definitely” Playoff Team: When the 2012 Western Conference playoff picture is discussed, the Phoenix Suns are routinely left out of the conversation despite being led by two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash.
But regardless of what the mainstream belief is, Suns forward Channing Frye isn’t buying the notion that Phoenix can’t compete for one of the West’s eight playoff spots.
Frye feels the Suns have playoff pedigree and the talent it takes to make a run.
“I definitely do man, I really do,” Frye told HOOPSWORLD on his belief the Suns are a playoff squad. “I think if we can just take care of the little things and really find our identity, once we figure out something that is going to work for both units, I think right now we’re still just figuring each other out and once we figure out that thing, that little niche and then hopefully it’s not too late that we’re a pretty tough team. We beat Portland, we beat some good teams. We competed against LA so we beat some good teams, also lost to teams that we shouldn’t but we look back and it’s like ‘oh man, look at all these mistakes that we made,’ and other teams make shots so for us we just need to find our little niche and once we do that I think we’re going to be a contender.”
The Suns are led by the aging Nash and seventeen year veteran forward Grant Hill.
Not surprisingly the talk of Nash and Hill’s age usually take center stage when discussing the Suns, but Frye believes the vets have more left in the tank than the public is giving credit. He also believes it’s the rest of the team’s responsibility to lessen the burden on their leaders’ legs to preserve them over the long haul.
“I think every year, everybody always says this is the twilight of their career,” Frye said. “But I just try to learn from them and grow with them and I think we’re not the youngest team in the league just overall so I think for us we need to make sure that we’re all working on our game and learning from them but at the same time taking some responsibility from them. I think we can’t rely on them to carry us every single night, we have to take care of our business and for us younger guys, Shannon [Brown], myself, [Michael] Redd, [Marcin] Gortat, Jared Dudley, Hakim [Warrick], Josh [Childress], we have to be like the next generation of guys so we have to really step it up and allow them to just do seventy percent, not ninety or a hundred so we’re working on it, but it’s going to be an exciting year for us.”
The Suns are currently just 2.5 games behind the red hot Memphis Grizzlies who hold the last and final playoff spot in the West.
Celtics’ Ainge Staying Patient, But Won’t Hesitate To Pull Trigger On Deal: Widely thought to be the final year the championship window of the aging Boston Celtics will be open, the team has gotten off to a terribly slow start to begin the 2012 campaign.
Boston fans are now calling for a roster shakeup and there are numerous reports that nine-time All-Star forward Paul Pierce is being shopped around the league in an effort to lure in younger talent.
Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations for the Celtics, is remaining patient before pulling off a deal and closing the chapter for good on Boston’s big three – leaning toward the loyalty to veterans route he witnessed during his playing career.
“First of all, it’s a different era,’’ Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “I sat with Red [Auerbach] during a Christmas party [20 years ago]. Red was talking to Larry [Bird], Kevin [McHale], and myself, and there was a lot of trade discussion at the time, and Red actually shared some of the trade discussions. And I told Red, ‘What are you doing? Why are you waiting?’ “He had a chance to trade Larry [to Indiana] for Chuck Person and Herb Williams and [Steve] Stipanovich, and he had a chance to trade Kevin [to Dallas] for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. I was, like, ‘Are you kidding?’ “I mean, I feel that way now. If I were presented with those kinds of deals for our aging veterans, it’s a done deal, to continue the success.”
Still with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen both becoming free agents at season’s end, creating plenty of salary cap room, there is no rush for Ainge to make a hasty decision this early in the season.
“I think in the next few weeks I’ll have a better feel,” Ainge said. “If the pattern continues like it is now, then I think that our hopes diminish, of course. It still doesn’t mean we do anything, because there may not be opportunities to do anything. But I think that we’ll have a better feel rather than a 12-game sample.’’
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