10:40 am Jul. 20, 2012
While the Houston Rockets held a press conference to show off Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks provided more limited media access to Lin's replacement, Raymond Felton.
Felton,coming off not such a great season in Portland, declared himself ready to prove everybody wrong during an interview on M.S.G. Network during a Knicks summer league game in Las Vegas Thursday.
When asked about his offseason, Felton replied: “Getting ready and getting in shape. Listening to all those people talking about what happened in Portland last year and just ready to shut up a lot of people’s mouths.”
The thing that's coming out of peoples mouths, which is that Felton showed up out of shape last season and gave less than his full effort, is sort of indisputable. The good news, Felton-wise, is that he will in fact be exceeding those people's expectations if he plays well in New York.
So what does Felton have going for him, aside from something to prove?
Well, in his 54 games with the Knicks back in 2010-11, he not only posted the best numbers of his career—37.3 percent assist rate, just 16.6 percent turnover rate, a P.E.R. of 17.3—but he brought out the best play Amar'e Stoudemire has provided since joining the Knicks, including nine straight games with at least 30 points.
The Knicks will have to hope that Felton (who sat with Stoudemire courtside on Thursday) could get similar productions out of Stoudemire this time around, though it has been Stoudemire's health, more than point guards or Carmelo Anthony or any other factor, that has reduced his effectiveness in the nearly two years since Felton was traded to Denver in the Anthony deal.
In essence, the Knicks have rebuilt the exciting team that first drew fans back in after Stoudemire's signing in the pre-Carmelo portion of the 2010-11 season, with Felton, Stoudemire, Steve Novak in the role of Danilo Gallinari, along with the upgrades from Wilson Chandler to Carmelo Anthony and Timofey Mozgov to Tyson Chandler, no small things.
That team was 28-26 without Anthony or Chandler. So it isn't impossible to imagine them contending in the Eastern Conference with Anthony and Chandler. But they won't be able to do it if they give back those gains with regression from Stoudemire and Felton.
Stoudemire has been healthy this offseason, and even plans to train with Hakeem Olajuwon on post moves next month, a far cry from last offseason, when Stoudemire needed to stay away from basketball activity to heal his injured back.
And Felton has dropped a lot of weight—he refused to say how much, but looked noticeably slimmer—while planning to report early to Knicks training camp.
“Feels good to be home … back in New York," Felton said. "I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time and for it to actually happen again is good.”
Let's hope he still feels that way in December.