NBA PM: Allen’s Smooth Transition to HEAT
It didn’t take long for Ray Allen to emerge as a difference maker for the Miami HEAT. Despite adjusting to a new city, team, coaching staff and role, the 37-year-old has been able to make an impact in Miami through nine games.
Allen is averaging 12.8 points off the bench and hitting 54.1 percent of his threes. Last year, the HEAT didn’t have someone who could provide instant offense with the second unit, but Allen has done just that. He has given Miami another offensive weapon and taken some of the scoring burden off of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
“It’s been great,” Allen said of joining the HEAT. “The guys have welcomed me and the city has welcomed me. I’ve enjoyed my first few months.”
“It hasn’t been too tough of a transition,” Allen added. “When you’re dealing with championship-caliber teams, a lot of the things that they’re doing are similar. There are some different play calls and terminology when you’re out there on the floor, but it’s pretty much the same stuff.”
Allen signed with the HEAT in July, leaving the Boston Celtics after five seasons with the team. Allen would’ve made more money in Boston – $6 million versus $3.09 million – and had a no-trade clause, but he felt that he had the best chance to win a championship in Miami. Allen admitted that the decision wasn’t easy.
“It was difficult and it was emotional, but I think it was something that had to happen,” Allen said of leaving the Celtics.
While Allen’s transition has been smooth, he admits that there are still a lot of things that he’s learning and areas that Miami needs to work on, including their defense.
“We’re about 10 games into the season now and it seems like every game there’s something new that we’re learning,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of stuff that’s still left to be figured out. It’s been pretty good. Everyone’s mind is in the right place and everyone is trying to do what they can to help the team win.”
“Every team will tell you that [they need to improve on defense], but we do feel that way,” Allen said. “We want to improve defensively, but it’s a matter of communication and everybody just building chemistry.”
Offensively, the HEAT has done an excellent job spreading the ball around and getting everyone involved. When Allen signed with Miami, some pundits wondered if there would be enough shots to go around, but that hasn’t been an issue. Everyone has gotten their touches early on and Miami has been beating teams with a balanced attack. James, Bosh, Wade and Allen are averaging double figures and Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier have contributed as well.
“It’s tremendous,” Allen said of the group’s unselfishness. “When you win a championship, those are the type of things that you hear the team and organization talk about, doing something for the next man. That’s what they’ve done here and they did it all last year.”
“Just like any team I’ve been on, moving the ball has been paramount to success,” Allen added. “When we’re struggling, it’s because we’re not moving the ball. When we move the ball, we get anything we want.”
Allen is enjoying the change of scenery and fitting in with the HEAT. However, only time will tell if leaving Boston was the right decision.
Felton, Knicks Exceeding Expectations
Entering the season, Raymond Felton had a “huge chip on his shoulder.” Felton was coming off of the worst year of his career and he was determined to silence his critics. The 28-year-old point guard struggled during his one-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, showing up to camp out of shape because he thought the lockout would cancel the season and then posting career-lows across the board.
Felton’s critics questioned if he was still a starting-caliber point guard. After all, he had struggled ever since the New York Knicks traded him to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal two years ago. While he looked like a potential All-Star in New York, he hadn’t been able to duplicate that success in Denver or Portland. All of this negative talk motivated Felton, who trained extremely hard over the offseason and vowed to silence his critics.
In July, the Knicks brought Felton back to New York in a sign-and-trade with the Blazers, but it seemed like he was set up to fail. After acquiring Felton, the Knicks decided to let fan favorite Jeremy Lin walk to the Houston Rockets, giving him huge shoes to fill in his first season back in New York.
However, five games into the season, Felton has been playing well and the Knicks are the only remaining undefeated team in the league. While there’s still plenty of basketball to be played, Felton is reviving his career and proving that he’s still a capable playmaker. He has averaged 14 points, 6.4 assists and 1.6 steals so far this season and he’s thrilled to be donning orange and blue again.
“I love it,” Felton said. “I love New York. I never wanted to leave so I’m glad I got the opportunity to come back. To be back here, with the success that we’re having, it definitely puts a big smile on my face. I know I can’t get complacent. I just have to stay focused, continue to grind and continue to get better.”
The Knicks aren’t just winning games, they’re blowing teams out. New York’s average margin of victory is 15.6 points and all five of their wins have been by double digits. While their last two wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic were close until the fourth quarter, they still won both games by 10 points. While the Knicks have exceeded expectations and been extremely impressive, Felton stressed that the veteran-laden team understands that early season accomplishments don’t mean anything.
“You can’t get too excited,” Felton said of the Knicks’ 5-0 start. “We’ve got 82 games and we’ve only played five. We’ve got a lot of games left, 77 games left, so we can’t get too excited.”
“We’re not going to get complacent,” Felton added. “We’ve had two tough games that we had to fight out. Every game isn’t going to be perfect. We’re not going to play the way we played against Philly or Miami each and every night. We’re not always going to blow teams out. We have to be able to grind games out too.”
New York has gotten off to a hot start, but their goal is to be winning games in May and June. Over the offseason, the Knicks had a win-now approach. Rather than developing young talent like Lin and Landry Fields, they brought in veterans such as Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, Pablo Prigioni, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas. New York hasn’t won a playoff series since the 1999-00 season and they’re determined to change that this season. This team has championship aspirations and they certainly look like legitimate contenders out of the gate.
“Everybody is focused. Everybody knows we have a good enough team to do something amazing here. Everybody has the same common goal. Everybody is working hard every day. We’re playing as one,” Felton said.
Last time Felton was in New York, he didn’t have Anthony to make his life easier. This season, Anthony has been arguably the most productive player in the NBA, averaging 26.8 points and 7.4 rebounds through five games, and Felton has enjoyed playing alongside the superstar.
“Carmelo is playing great,” Felton said. “He’s in great shape. He’s been focused since the summer time, even when he came in with us and played pick-up. He was in early, three weeks, working out every day.”
Felton was also working out at the practice facility every day, motivated by his recent struggles and determined to show that he could still be successful if put in the right situation. Now, Felton and the Knicks are thriving once again and he couldn’t be happier with the results.
Lowry, Fields and Anderson Remain Sidelined
On Thursday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors provided injury updates for three of their key players.
Kyle Lowry has a bruised cuboid bone in his right foot. He will be treated symptomatically with an estimated return time of one-to-two weeks.
Landry Fields underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery yesterday to address compression and entrapment in his right elbow. There’s no timetable for his return, but he’ll be reassessed in two weeks.
Alan Anderson has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Anderson is estimated to be out for three-to-six weeks during the rehabilitation process.