After a great 2012-13 season, the New York Knicks had a dismal 2013-14 run and much of it was caused by the fact that Jason Kidd retired to become the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks not only lost a competent and talented point guard, but they lost leadership. Besides being able to create shots opportunities for himself and for the team, a great point guard is supposed to convey leadership on and off the floor. The real floor general is an offensive reference and a defensive cornerstone, just take a look at Toni Parker, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook for example, who not only play at a high level, but play to make everyone around them better and are the first ones to take the blame in case things don’t go their team’s way.
Raymond Felton came to the Knicks as a good back up PG, able to penetrate the defense and shoot decently from the perimeter. This past season he didn’t manage to do either. Besides the off-court problems, which are not even worth talking about, Felton lacked offensive creativity and sharpshooting ability to offer any threats to opponents and defensively it was a total disaster.
Yes, a healthy team that can build up chemistry between the players helps a lot and the Knicks didn’t have that (Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler all having hurt themselves at some point during the past season). The team didn’t have a good system that made everyone better — the Chicago Bulls didn’t have consistency roster-wise, but they still managed to play consistently at a high level — but nothing justifies Felton’s performance.
What good can come out of keeping him?
As you probably know, the franchise has no financial flexibility this summer, and even though they should be looking to upgrade the position with the likes of Shaun Livingston, Darren Collison or Steve Blake with the little amount of money they have available, there is nothing Felton can do but improve. He still has a little gas left in the tank, and if he shows intelligence to understand the triangle system to be implemented by coach Derek Fisher, he can actually thrive in it better than he did in the Mike Woodson‘s pick and roll / Isolation style of play from last season.
His price tag is low and his motivation to show everyone that he is not useless must be high, so keeping Felton in the team should add a little depth to a weak point guard position — Pablo Prigioni is 36 years old and doesn’t have much left to offer — and won’t cost too much in the process. Besides, Toure Murry could be used as a shooting guard and develop that way, something that Woodson failed to do.