Dec 6, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) dribbles against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won the game 121-83. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Raymond Felton: Will Felton’s Presence Become a Distraction?


Tuesday night it was announced that Raymond Felton will play Thursday against the Miami Heat. This came as a surprise considering he had been arrested for gun possession earlier that day.

Jan 20, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden. Brooklyn Nets defeat the New York Knicks 103-80. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Mike Woodson has confirmed as much today in media sessions, claiming that there wasn’t any doubt that if Felton could play, he would. The accusations against Felton — owning an illegal handgun, allegedly pointing it at his wife — don’t sound particularly supportive, but if the legal system in New York let him out on bail, then it’s tough for the Knicks or the NBA to punish him.

However, as Adam Zagoria tweeted, it was a media circus around the Knicks. In the media session, Felton didn’t take any questions, but simply said that he won’t be a distraction to the team and is focused on trying to help the Knicks make a playoff push.

Chris Herring begs to differ about what Felton’s situation will do in terms of media coverage.

Considering the Knicks lack a first-round draft pick this season, their only real option is to try to make a playoff push, however unlikely it may be. They have but a few young assets — one of whom is injured (Iman Shumpert), another that sees only limited minutes (Jeremy Tyler), and the other doesn’t play at all (Toure’ Murry). So it doesn’t seem that the Knicks will take the rest of the season to simply try to develop their young players. No: it’s playoffs or bust.

In this case, we have to wonder if Felton being around will help or hurt that cause. In the last three games — all losses — Felton is playing a little bit better, averaging 13 points on 53% shooting, 4 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. And, when healthy and playing well, Felton is the Knicks’ best option at point guard. Last May in the playoffs, we were discussing how well Felton was playing for the Knicks. His defense has always left a bitter taste in the mouth, but he’s the only Knick point guard capable of breaking down the defense in the pick-and-roll, creating penetration and open looks from the outside. The Knicks need a good Raymond Felton.

However, this season that Felton has rarely existed. Felton has cracked 20 points just once this season and has only gotten double-digit assists four times. Combined with poor conditioning, health, and coaching, it’s been just as bad as a season for Raymond as his nightmare stint with the Portland Trailblazers in 2011-12.

So to add on his legal woes in the midst of a 1-6 stretch in which the Knicks are supposed to be gaining ground on the teams ahead of them in the playoff picture — it may not go so well. Felton may be distracted mentally, and the constant media attention could get to his teammates as well.

There’s the possibility of Felton using all of this for motivation; Mr. Chip-on-his-Shoulder has occasionally shown the ability to get up for big games. However, that would require summoning some inner-greatness. I don’t want to be the one to doubt Felton’s own fight and spirit, but he’s rarely been able to summon competence this season, let alone while facing possible jail time.

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Tags: Mike Woodson New York Knicks Raymond Felton Raymond Felton Arrest