What was also odd was to see Felton coming off the bench. While it was known prior to this game that Raymond would not start, it still seems quite strange. As I’ve written in my previous posts for the Knicks Journal, I am partial to Mr. Felton. I think he is the ultimate competitor, a bulldog on defense, tough, smart, and a leader. Yes, I certainly appreciate what the Knicks now have in Chauncy Billups and I do think that his playoff experience is monumental and could be the difference maker as to whether or not the Knicks, as presently constructed, can make it past a first round playoff series. However, I like to have insurance. I’m not the biggest risk-taker.
Due to his age, Chauncy is a “short term solution” at the point guard position. Sound familiar? There is no guarantee that the Knicks are getting Chris Paul. As we have seen, the league is unpredictable and there are changes coming that make it more so. I would have preferred keeping the young, reasonably priced point guard and had the Knicks have him in their back pocket as insurance. Not a bad fallback plan, right?
Despite not starting, Raymond was playing big minutes, so it’s possible he may wind up starting in the long run. I also hold out a hope that if the Knicks do not come away with any major top-tier point guard in 2012, that they can find a way to lure Felton back to the Knicks with a longer term contract. The guy was in the top six in league leaders for both assists and steals, so that works for me. Personally, it hurts to see the guy being insulted. After being put into this deal after giving so much to the Knicks, should he be slighted like that?
With about seven minutes left in the second quarter, we saw a very intriguing line up: Chandler, Felton, Smith, Nene and Gallo. For a while I had pondered the idea of adding Nene to the Knicks’ old line-up and wondered what that would look like. This was a chance to see something pretty darn close. It only lasted for a few minutes, but it was fun to see what might have been.
At the half, Wilson Chandler was the only ex-Knick with points on the board. That was not too surprising considering they are all going to need time to get acclimated to all of their teammates and the multiple offensive sets, but they played hard, (as they always have) and I expect them to do so going forward.
Another interesting wrinkle during the game: Nuggets Coach George Karl, someone widely respected around the league, commented during a feature of TNT’s broadcast of the game, criticizing Carmelo Anthony for "[lack of] defensive focus, his demand of himself, is what frustrated us more than anything." ‘Melo took to Twitter immediately to shoot back at Karl’s dig with a few retorts. I personally hope this doesn’t erupt into a larger war of words, as it appears beneath ‘Melo to do so. He needs to move on and prove that, with his team of choice, all other things aside, that he can put the work in on being better on defense. Perhaps proving his leadership on the floor, along with Amar’e Stoudemire will provide more focus and a demand for the same from his teammates.”
After months of rooting against this Denver Nuggets team, I found myself wishing for every ex Knick to have the games of their lives. And while not one of them had a tremendous impact on the game (Wilson Chandler had 16 points and Gallo had some key moments. Mozgov did not enter the game), it was Raymond Felton, on the floor playing alongside Ty Lawson, as the Nuggets’ went on a 13-0 run in the last minutes of the game. It was Felton whom led the team to their first post Melo-drama victory, a victory that included the now much appreciated former Knicks.
While I know the Knicks’ cap situation for 2011 and 2012 is such that they will not have the space or interest in pursuing either guy, I still hold out hope that either or both Felton and Chandler may one day be wearing orange and blue again in the future, as both of their contributions to the team were appreciated by me.