Raymond Felton’s Move to Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks Should Improve His Prominence, Performance


July 19, 2010

It seems a little silly that the New York Knicks spent 14 years over the salary cap, enduring season after season with an overpaid and underperforming roster, just to build up to an underwhelming summer of 2010.

And it seems a little backwards that Raymond Felton, the starting point guard who built the Charlotte Bobcats into a playoff team, has left to join the 53-loss train wreck in New York City. But whether it makes any sense or not, it's now a reality. Felton is a Knick, and times are changing in the Big Apple.

It seems counterintuitive that after five years helping to build the Bobcats from the ground up, Felton would leave now. Ever since the former Tar Heel was drafted fifth overall back in 2005, he's been a focal point of the franchise in Charlotte. When he arrived that fall, he immediately became part of a strong young nucleus alongside Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, determined to put the Queen City on the basketball map.

In a lot of ways, he was successful. Felton, Wallace, Okafor, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson — they were all part of the long-term plan to build a winning franchise. From expansion team in 2004 to 44-game winner and playoff team just six seasons later — that's an accomplishment and Felton was as big a part of it as anyone.

You'd think he'd take pride in that. You'd think he'd want to stick with the monster he helped create, and be a Bobcat for life. You'd think that all he'd helped the Bobcats to achieve would create some kind of loyalty.

But that clearly wasn't the case, as Felton agreed on July 9 to skip Charlotte and sign with the Knicks for two years and $15.8 million.

A lot of people would thumb their noses at the kind of cowardice it takes to ditch a playoff team in Charlotte for an uncertain future in New York. But that's only one way to spin it.

Felton may be leaving a good thing behind, but he's headed for the bright lights of the biggest city in America. He'll be playing in the biggest market in sports and he's in position to capitalize. He's now 26, and he's spotted a window of opportunity to find fame and fortune in the prime of his career.

He heads to a Knicks team that's on the mend after last season's 29-53 debacle. Felton himself is a big upgrade from the Chris Duhon/Nate Robinson/Toney Douglas triumvirate that ran the point last season, and Amare Stoudemire is obviously the biggest star the Knicks have seen in a while. Russian import Timofey Mozgov has the chance to make a big impact.

The Knicks aren't contenders yet, but they're beginning to put the pieces in place. Felton is just one part of a grand work in progress.

And you've got to hand it to New York City — it's a good basketball town when the Knicks are doing well. No one appreciates a winner like the Big Apple.

Off the court, Felton has the chance to make himself into a star. On it, he should thrive — he's moving from a slow, methodical system under Larry Brown in Charlotte to an aggressive, fast-paced one under Mike D'Antoni that should best use his physical gifts.

Two years from now, Felton may be gone and forgotten, as bigger stars like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul may be in New York's future. But between now and the summer of 2012, Felton has a chance to make a name for himself. He couldn't ask for a better place to do it.

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