After losing out on Steve Kerr, the New York Knicks remain without a head coach at the helm. What’s more, heading into this summer’s free agency period, there are still multiple question marks surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s continued tenure in orange and blue.
Needless to say, there are quite a few pressing matters on the plate of President Phil Jackson.
As first reported by our friends at SNY, Phil Jackson has made starting point guard Raymond Felton aware that he will look to trade him in the offseason. Ian Begley of ESPN New York confirms that such a conversation took place during an exit interview. What’s more, Jackson is expected to pursue former Lakers’ guard Steve Blake in the offseason.
Blake is a very intelligent floor general, a great leader, and perhaps most importantly, a well respected teammate. He contributes in other ways than Felton, and his impact is sometimes an intangible one. Still, he has experience and success playing the one in Jackson’s triangle offense, if nothing else. He’d be a solid addition, regardless of whether or not he’d be a direct upgrade over Felton.
Aside from that, however, it’s interesting to hear that trading Felton happens to be a priority. At $15 million over four years (including a final year player option), the 29 year old is by no means overpaid. Following a campaign filled with injuries and struggles (both on and off the court), it’s safe to say Felton hasn’t exactly proven he can hold his own as a starter on a consistent basis. He’s played himself (unfortunately) out of such a role.
Even so, that doesn’t mean in any way, shape, or form that Felton couldn’t emerge as a reliable offensive option off the bench. Regardless of whether or not that he’s something he prefers, the guard has a contract to honor.
Luckily enough, Felton’s legal troubles this past season didn’t prove to be too distracting, save for over a short period lasting only a day or two. What’s more, his teammates (Anthony, most notably) proved to be supportive of the veteran throughout.
Felton is on a semi-decent contract and has displayed an ability (albeit it, in the past) to play rather well with some of the key members of this team. Why not simply explore other point guard possibilities, all the while keeping Felton aboard just in case? Given the lesser financial burden of his contract, what’s the harm?
Pure speculation here: it’d be interesting to know whether or not any of Felton’s teammates expressed a cause for concern over his presence in exit interviews. Did such legal troubles present more of a problem than the public was led to believe?
If Felton represented a cancer of sorts in the locker room, then perhaps Jackson’s interest in moving him has a little bit more motivation. Otherwise, the guard might be worth holding onto for now.