By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
With the Knicks continuing their coaching search after Steve Kerr spurned them for the Golden State Warriors, news broke that President Phil Jackson already has plans to shape his roster, without a coach yet being in place.
Earlier this week it was said that the Knicks would try and trade Raymond Felton this offseason. That is not surprising with Felton’s play falling off last season and them being close to trading him this past season at the trade deadline. What is surprising, is that Jackson essentially told him his chances were slim at best that he would be a Knick next season.
Moving Felton will not be the easiest task for Jackson and the Knicks, as he has two seasons remaining on his four-year, $15 million contract he signed prior to the 2012 campaign. The final year of the contract is a player option, and it is hard to imagine him passing that up.
Last season Felton struggled mightily, never getting into a groove as he battled injuries throughout the season. When he was on the court, he provided uneven play and falling well short of what he gave the Knicks in the 2012-2013 season.
Felton averaged a career-low 9.7 points per game last season, shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 31.8 from the three-point line. He averaged only 5.6 assists as well to go with 3.0 rebounds.
Where Felton disappointed the most was on the defensive end. Opposing point guards averaged 22.7 points per game against him, as Felton was a revolving door at the defensive end, putting immense pressure on the interior players to provide help defense.
While he struggled last season, he could still be a piece a team trades for. He no longer looks to be starter worthy at an NBA level, but as a backup point guard he should succeed. Not being the sole player responsible for getting the team into the offense will help Felton immensely. Also as a backup point guard, his minutes will be reduced. He won’t have to chase around opposing starting point guards for 30+ minutes a night, and teams can mask his deficiencies more effectively the less time he is needed.
He is also a veteran, and could give spot starts when needed. Plenty of teams suffer when a start goes down because they do not have a player capable of stepping in for a couple games. While Felton struggled last season, he has shown that he is capable of playing well in spurts, which is all you need from a reserve.
Felton also had some off the court trouble last season. He was issued two felony gun charges in February and will be in court June 2nd.
The gun charges are what could be the real deterrent in moving Felton. It will be hard to convince another team to take on a player they may not actually get to use on the court for the upcoming season.
All in all, it is not a surprise that the Knicks will look to move Felton this offseason. Last season was enough, at least in the eyes of Jackson, that Felton can no longer be a starter in this league. While people will ask why the Knicks just don’t hold onto him to be their backup, it would be hard to justify him getting minutes from Pablo Prigioni, who has proven time and time again that he is a great backup option for this team.