Knicks are Hoping for Consistency at Point Guard

By A.J. Speier

When the Knicks made the decision to fire head coach Mike D’Antoni last season, everybody knew more changes were on the horizon.

The Knicks finished in seventh place at the end of the regular season in the Eastern Conference with a 36-30 record after beginning the season with Toney Douglas as their starting point guard. Douglas had done well the previous season averaging 10.6 points and three assists with .373 three-point shooting percentage in 24.3 minutes per game.

However, Douglas struggled and as a result only started nine games. He finished with 6.2 points and two assists with .231 three-point shooting percentage in 17.3 minutes per game.

The Knicks decided to give Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert a chance to start at point guard, but neither player could handle D’Antoni’s system, so the Knicks decided to give Jeremy Lin a chance to start while they continued to wait for Baron Davis’ back to heal.

Once Lin took over, the Knicks won nine of their next twelve games and went into the all-star break with a 17-18 record. Over the next fourteen games, the Knicks would fire coach D’Antoni and promote Mike Woodson to head coach. The Knicks won just seven games in that span and were 24-25 when Lin played his final game in a Knicks’ jersey due to injury.

Baron Davis then became the starting point guard and helped the Knicks win 12 of their last 17 games with a trip to the playoffs. Davis averaged 8.2 points and 4.7 assists with a .396 three-point shooting percentage in 26.4 minutes per game.

In Game 4 of Knicks’ five game series loss to the Miami Heat, Davis suffered a partial tear to the patella tendon and a complete tear of the ACL and MCL in his right knee. Davis is now a free agent at 33 years old and will require at least 12 months of rehab and after dealing with back woes and weight problems, his NBA career appears to be coming to an end.

The Knicks determined that none of the current point guards on their team could help lead their team into the postseason, so they decided to sign veteran Jason Kidd as a backup while they took their time to decide whether it was worth matching the Houston Rocket’s three-year, 25.1 million contract offer for Jeremy Lin.

Then a former Knick in Raymond Felton began to show interest in rejoining the team. Felton averaged 17.1 points and nine assists with a .328 three-point shooting percentage in the 54 games prior to the Knicks blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets which sent him, Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick, the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash for Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman.

Remembering the chemistry that Felton had with Amare Stoudemire and seeing a cheaper alternative to Lin, the Knicks eagerly signed Felton to a three-year $10 million contract. Felton also has a chip on his shoulder after finishing the 2010-11 season in 21 games as a backup with the Nuggets and then struggling as a starter with the Portland Trailblazers this past season, averaging 11.4 points and 6.5 assists with a .305 three-point shooting percentage.

Which Felton the Knicks will get remains to be seen, but according to North Carolina coach Roy Williams, he appears to have lost weight and is motivated to show that he can handle the duties of a quality starting point guard.

“He’ll be fired up,” said Williams. “He is fired up right now. He looks great.”

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