Sunday, July 22, 2012

Knicks' PG Raymond Felton: I'm better than Jeremy Lin -

The New York Knicks’ decision to allow Jeremy Lin to leave for the Houston Rockets has received mixed reactions for a number of reasons. Count point guard Raymond Felton as one person who hasn’t doubted the Knicks choice for one second.

The sign-and-trade for Felton that New York agreed to with the Portland Trail Blazers was held up as an indication the Knicks would let Lin walk. It turned out to be true, and Felton says there was an obvious reason for the deal: He’s the better player.

New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton said he is a competitor and better player than Jeremy Lin. (AP Photo)

In a television interview with MSG Network on Thursday, Felton said he is better than the player who ushered in “Linsanity” and shifted all eyes to Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks last season. Felton added that he harbored no hard feelings toward Lin, saying it is “nothing personal between me and Jeremy.”

Felton did mesh well with big man Amare Stoudemire in his first stint as Knicks point guard in 2010-11. That performance was in the same pick-and-roll heavy offense Lin made his name in. Of course, that style was ditched with the firing of former coach Mike D’Antoni. By that time Felton had already been traded to the Denver Nuggets in February of 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster.

Offensive strategy aside, whether Felton can get back to his peak and forget a tough 2011-12 season will determine how the Knicks’ decision is perceived in the future.

Last season, Felton came under fire for starting the year out of shape. It translated to season averages of 11.4 points ( a career-low) and 6.5 assists (his lowest total since the ’09-10 season) on a Portland Trail Blazers team that struggled despite a talent-rich roster. Coach Nate McMillan’s firing on March 15 only made matters worse. The Trail Blazers spiraled downward to end the year and closed the season with eight straight losses.

“I am hearing from everybody, ‘He wasn’t in shape last year,’” Felton said. “I played in the league seven years, about to be eight, came in out of shape one year and that’s all everybody wants to talk about. … I look forward to this year and shutting up everybody’s mouth.

“I wasn’t at the weight I normally (am). I am the first one to say, ‘I wasn’t in shape.’ I don’t make no excuses, I don’t blame anyone else.”

Felton is sure to have plenty opportunities to prove his detractors wrong. He will start at point guard, with Jason Kidd serving a mentor role as the backup.

Other than Iman Shumpert, who is returning from an ACL tear in his right knee, the Knicks don’t have any other ballhandlers. Along with allowing Lin to walk, they traded third string point guard Toney Douglas in a sign-and-trade with the Rockets for Marcus Camby.

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