Raymond Felton Weathering Trade Rumors
Things have been interesting for Raymond Felton during his first season with the Portland Trailblazers. His new team had—and continues to have—high expectations for this lockout-shortened season, but Felton finds himself averaging career lows in nearly every statistical category after being one of the best young point guards in recent years.
“A lot of ups and downs,” Felton told HOOPSWORLD. “I came in and really didn’t have a lot of time to get used to these guys, to grow a bond on the court and off the court. Coming to a new team with six or seven new guys, losing Brandon (Roy) and losing Greg (Oden) again, it’s tough. It’s one of those things where I didn’t really come in the way that I normally would shape-wise because you have them telling you, ‘We might start in January. Nope, we’ll start in February.’ All of a sudden, they tell you that you have to report to your team within a week and it’s one of those seasons where you can’t control it, you can’t do anything about it.”
Mostly due to the struggles of this season, Felton has heard his name in trade rumors again. This is the time of year that can drive players, media and fans to madness with the amount of speculation and “sources” flying around each day, but as a professional, Felton knows how to deal with this trying time.
“I really don’t think about it because I’ve been through it before and it happens all the time,” said Felton. “I’ve told the guys, ‘When your name is in trade rumors, it means teams like you.’ Teams know your potential and know your game, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing all the time. It’s good to know there are teams out there that know your game and are willing to take you on their team, but on the flipside of it, you can’t really get into all of it because it can mess with your head. I’ve seen it happen with a lot of guys.”
In recent games, Coach Nate McMillan made the decision to have Felton come off the bench. This is something the seventh-year point guard is not used to, but as a veteran more concerned with winning, Felton stayed positive when other players may have hung their heads low.
“I looked at it as more of an opportunity because I try not to be a negative person, so I try not to look at things in a negative way. It’s like a boost, a motivation, to get back to Raymond, get back to my grind, get back to being aggressive no matter what and just play basketball. I did that because it got me back in that mindset of being aggressive when I came off the bench, so when he put me back in the starting lineup I did that from the jump, the start of the game all the way through to the end. I didn’t look at it in a negative way even though a lot of people wrote a lot of negative things about it, but I looked at the positives of it.”
“Ray is a professional and is a pretty good basketball player,” adds teammate Marcus Camby. “I don’t think it bothered him that much by thinking it was a demotion to the second unit. He got a chance to sit back and see what the first unit needed and he incorporated more into his game. Now he’s going out there, playing like the Ray of old by hitting shots, getting into the lane, making layups and distributing the basketball. Hopefully, he can keep playing well.”
The added motivation sparked in Felton by removing him from the starting lineup helped him to remember what he worked on in the off-season and focus. He found himself to be in a never-ending cycle of frustration due to the work he had put in during the off-season before the move, but now that he’s regained his ultimate confidence, he believes the Trailblazers will see the progress in his game. Ultimately, he believes the areas he focused on will make him the player Portland thought he was and more, becoming a major factor in the team’s attack.
“Mainly just my jumpshot off the dribble, working on my three and really just working on everything,” said Felton. “My numbers are down percentage-wise, but that’s something I really worked on. It’s just been a very, very, very frustrating year because I’ve gotten better each year throughout my career. The most disappointing thing is dropping these games because I feel like we have a great team.”
Don’t forget, coming to a new team is difficult enough. As a point guard coming to a new team and really not having a training camp is even more difficult. However, don’t think Felton is making any excuses, but rather battling through the struggles with a positive mindset.
“Point guard is the toughest position on the team,” said Felton. “You have to grow that relationship with your guys and earn that trust. These guys know my game, but you still have to earn that trust when you come to a new team. You have to earn your stripes. It’s just one of those things where you try to build into that and I think these guys trust me as their point guard and Coach did a lot of different things by taking guys out of the lineup, taking me out of the lineup for a couple games. There are a lot of things, we’re dealing with a lot, but we’re just trying to stay positive, still trying to fight through this thing and turn this around.”
Felton can’t bother with concerning himself with the trade rumors. He’s more concerned about the team losing games and how he can help the Portland Trailblazers. Keeping up with trade rumors of where he might go, if he goes anywhere before the deadline at all, is a waste of energy and time.
“I definitely don’t read that stuff,” said Felton. “You’d be amazed at all the stuff that gets written, so I don’t really get into all that. Everybody started off slow and was struggling a bit, but the second half of the season I think I’m starting off pretty good, picked it up a little bit. It’s tough because I know how hard I work, my abilities and not to play at the potential I know I can, it’s frustrating. The biggest thing for me though is dropping these games and losing is more frustrating than anything.”
“Ray’s a vet and he’s been traded before,” adds Camby. “I know all about being traded too and it’s a part of the business. Somebody told me one time that when they’re not mentioning your name and stuff like that, then you should be worried. It always feels good to be wanted. I know that he wants to be here, we want him here and this being his first year here, he’s still learning how we do things around here. It’s tough for any player.”
The trade deadline is coming up quickly and the rumors swirl. Traded by then or not, Raymond Felton will continue on with his positive attitude.
“I’m a Portland Trail Blazer until told otherwise,” said Felton.