Lost in all of drama of what the New York Knicks didn’t do this off season has when they have accomplished. The quiet acquisition of point guard Raymond Felton, for one, is a transaction that is going to pay immediate dividends.
To the casual basketball fan who watches ESPN, the Knicks whiffing on LeBron James may seem catastrophic. But speaking for myself, who has been a Knicks fan since 1975, I think the changes made to this team this offseason bode well.
Yes, having Amar’e Stoudemire as the focal point of Mike D’Antoni’s offense is huge. Bringing in the talented trio of Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf brings athleticism (Randolph), some shooting ability off the bench (Azubuike) and interior defense (Turiaf).
But at point guard, the most important role in D’Antoni’s uptempo offense, Felton could prove to be the most important pickup since the Knicks traded for Earl Monroe in 1971.
Looking at statistics will only tell part of Felton’s story. Yes, in his five seasons with Charlotte, Felton averaged a mediocre 13.3 points and 6.4 assists, while shooting 41 percent from the field. But in reality, he is the best point guard the team has had in the last five years. Plus, he has a winning pedigree.
He won back-to-back state championships in high school, an N.C.A.A. title at North Carolina and helped the expansion Bobcats to their first playoff berth last season. He also played in a very controlled and precise offense in Charlotte, and in D’Antoni’s system, that will change dramatically.
So will the Knick’s fortunes.