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NBA Saturday: Felton Reviving Career in New York?
Posted By Alex Kennedy On July 21, 2012 @ 10:20 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Raymond Felton never wanted to leave the New York Knicks. Two years ago, Felton was having the best year of his career and telling those close to him that he wanted to retire in New York. He had developed chemistry with Amar’e Stoudemire and was receiving All-Star consideration. Then, just as he was getting comfortable and averaging a career-high 17.1 points and nine assists, Felton was traded to the Denver Nuggets along with Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov.
The veteran point guard was stunned. Not only was it the first time he had ever been traded, he was now expected to come off of the bench for the first time in his career. He didn’t start a single game for the Nuggets and didn’t hide his frustration. Chandler, Gallinari and Mozgov settled in with the Nuggets, but Felton had one foot out the door. He made it clear that he wanted to be traded, and his wish was granted over the summer when the Nuggets sent Felton to the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team deal that netted Andre Miller.
In Portland, Felton had every opportunity to succeed. He entered the season as the number one point guard on the depth chart, but he showed up to training camp out of shape and quickly butted heads with Blazers head coach Nate McMillan. During the first half of the season, Felton averaged just 10.2 points while shooting below 38 percent from the floor. By February, Jamal Crawford replaced Felton in the starting lineup, which didn’t sit well with the veteran point guard.
While Felton’s play improved after McMillan was fired – he averaged 14.4 points on 46.3 percent shooting and 7.7 assists – he was blamed for Portland’s struggles. After unsuccessfully trying to deal Felton at the trade deadline, the Blazers sent him to New York last week along with Kurt Thomas in exchange for Dan Gadzuric, Jared Jeffries and Kostas Papanikolaou.
Felton’s career hasn’t gone quite as planned since leaving the Knicks. Now, back in New York, the 28-year-old wants to forget the last year and a half and get back to the high level that he was playing at last time he was donning an orange and blue jersey. Entering this season, Felton knows he has a lot to prove and he’s hoping to silence his critics.
“I feel good,” Felton told HOOPSWORLD in Las Vegas. “I feel like I’m ready to go right now. I have a really big chip on my shoulder and I have a lot of things that I want to prove. I’m looking forward to it.”
This will be the most talented team that Felton has ever played on. As a point guard, having weapons like Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler makes the job easier. However, Felton will also have to spread the ball around and make sure he’s distributing shots evenly. He says he’s ready to take on Anthony and Stoudemire, and run the offense as he sees fit.
“I’m a dog,” Felton said. “I’m a guy that’s not afraid of either one of them. I’m a guy where if they get mad and upset, I’m able to sit there and tame them. I’m going to let these guys know, ‘Look, I’m going to get you the ball. Just let me run this team. You all are going to get your shots.’”
Felton is excited to play alongside Jason Kidd, who the Knicks signed to the mini mid-level exception prior to completing the trade with Portland.
“He has a lot of knowledge,” Felton said of Kidd. “He’s one of the best point guards to ever play the game. I look forward to learning from him and playing along with him.”
Felton has big shoes to fill in New York. Jeremy Lin became an overnight sensation and fan favorite, but the Knicks decided to hand the reins over to Felton and let Lin walk to the Houston Rockets. After a season and a half of struggles, Felton hopes that a return to New York can revitalize his career.
One-On-One With Thompson: Klay Thompson was one of the most impressive players in the first week of the Las Vegas Summer League. The second-year forward dominated for the Golden State Warriors, averaging 20.5 points, 6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Thompson was scoring at will and shot 51.9 percent from the field and a ridiculous 71.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The 22-year-old has been putting on a show in Las Vegas and he hopes his success will carry over to the regular season. Entering the 2012-13 season, Thompson has high expectations for the Warriors and believes this is the year that Golden State can make the playoffs.
“We have the ability to be a playoff team,” Thompson said. “Not only a playoff team, but a playoff team that can make a run. Everyone is a good player, one through five, and we have a really deep bench. I’m really excited going into my sophomore year.”
“One through five, we’re going to be tough to stop,” Thompson said. “You can’t just focus on Andrew (Bogut) or David (Lee) or Steph (Curry) or me or Harrison (Barnes). We have a great core of guys. I think we can get the Warriors back in the playoffs and into contention.”
HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler caught up with Thompson in Las Vegas:
Magic In No Rush to Trade Howard: Everyone is ready for the Dwight Howard soap opera to end. Fans are tired of hearing about Howard and journalists are tired of writing about him. After a year of wondering where Howard would land, the basketball world is ready to move on and focus on someone else. The Orlando Magic are also excited to put this drama behind them, but that doesn’t mean they’re in a rush to make a trade. The Magic are taking their time and holding out for the best possible deal.
Don’t expect Howard to be traded for at least a few more days. Throughout these negotiations, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has been discussing a number of trade scenarios with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers, forcing the teams to bid against one another for Howard’s services.
Now, Houston’s money is tied up since they signed restricted free agent Omer Asik to an offer sheet. Before the Rockets can make a final offer for Howard, they need to wait three days to see if the Chicago Bulls are going to match Asik. Whether or not they land Asik will determine just how much cap flexibility they have and how many contracts they can take back in a deal with Orlando.
Once the Asik situation is settled, Hennigan and the Magic will weigh the final offers from Houston and Los Angeles. In the meantime, the Magic will focus on their coaching search, which is down to three candidates: Jacque Vaughn, Michael Curry and Lindsey Hunter. The Howard soap opera may be coming to an end next week, but for now it’s to be continued.
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