This past week we watch four former Tar Heels enter the ranks of professional basketball. But now, with the NBA’s free agency in full session, other former Tar Heels are being talked about, one being San Antonio Spurs’ shooting guard Danny Green, while another is Portland Trail Blazers’ point guard Raymond Felton. The seven year floor general, who won a national title while at North Carolina in 2005, is being looked at by a former team of his, the New York Knicks. And while he is not the first choice for head coach Mike Woodson’s squad, Steve Nash holds that spot, or maybe not even the second or third for that matter, he might be the choice that the franchise that calls Madison Square Garden home end up with. For someone who has followed all the careers of the former Heels now at the next level, I think this match up would suit well both the player and the franchise, as both need one another in some ways.
Felton had arguebly his best season, or better said almost full season as he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in the Melo deal, while playing for New York. His points scored, assists, steals and free throw percentage were all the best in the seven season he has played in the pro’s. He also had many other categories that were second best within those same years in the NBA. He seemed to do rather well under former coach Mike D’Antoni pick and roll offense, with the new man at the helm still using some of the old coach’s playbook, it would make sense that Felton would fit right in with the team’s offensive scheme. Having watched the floor general that led head coach Roy Williams to his first national title for over a decade now I can say that with a team like the Knicks, who need chemistry, he could be the one that gives them exactly that, being able to be a pass first guard on a team that has enough shooters to go around. Between the fact he can play the pick and roll well, which would surely help Amar’e Stoudemire and a pass first mentality, which would be something Carmelo Anthony appreciates, Felton might not be the sexy choice, but could be the “good enough” one.
With the Trail Blazers’ coaching staff having had issues with Felton this past year and then choosing Weber State’s floor general with the sixth pick overall on Thursday I would conclude that the seven year vet out of UNC is all but done in Portland. Could a Lin/Felton combo for minutes work in the Big Apple? Can the player who was traded off to have Melo come to NYC be willing to let that go in order to further his career and play with a team that is not too far off from being among the best in the East? Can New York find a way to bring in someone else or will they go for Felton? Only time will tell, but with Felton needing to show that it was just a bad season with his former team and the Knicks needing someone to help lead them, the thought of bringing back someone who proved his worth for almost an entire year in Madison Square Garden is not such a bad idea. As usual, let me wish the best to Raymond Felton, whether he goes to the Knicks or else where, as he continues his career in the National Basketball Association.
And of course, since this is a Tar Heel blog, let me give you some memories of Felton while donning the carolina blue…