The Portland Trail Blazers have been looking for their next point guard of the future for some time now, and in a draft day deal last summer, the team thought they had found that player in Raymond Felton.
Averaging career lows all over the stat sheet, though, and being out of shape for most of the regular season, Felton’s future with the team wasn’t even certain beyond the March 15 trade deadline, let alone next year.
A late surge in production, however, begs the question, should the Blazers at least consider re-signing the 27-year old point guard moving forward next season?
Despite his poor play most of the year, Felton has shown signs of competency as of late that were seemingly non-existent three quarters of the way through the season.
Over the past 10 games, Felton’s numbers have increased to 13.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game, and there was even a stretch in early April where he was looking like a triple-double threat night in and night out for this team.
Maybe Felton has finally gotten accustomed to the team. Maybe he’s gotten into shape. Maybe he’s suddenly remembered that he is in a contract year.
Maybe, though, his turnaround has more to do with the trade deadline deals that saw the team seemingly explode in front of our eyes just a month ago.
It’s no secret that Gerald Wallace was guilty of inconsistency this season, but his ability to go off and score any game of the week took away from the opportunity for Felton to lead the charge early in the year.
Running the point guard in Nate McMillan’s system appeared to also be a recipe for disaster. Interim head coach Kaleb Canales has seemingly rejuvenated a number of players on the roster—Felton included—and a new energy has been present in Portland since the March 15 deadline.
Felton certainly deserves recognition for what he’s done the past few weeks, but the question to be asked is whether or not his late-season surge has earned him a spot on the roster next season.
Despite an improvement in his numbers, one area where Felton remains one of the worst in the NBA is late-game execution.
Missed shots, bad passes and costly drops have helped ruin the team’s playoff chances this year, and while the entire season can’t be blamed on his poor execution, many games this year surely can.
The No. 1 reason, though, to rid the roster of Felton?
The Rip City faithful have made it loud and clear in cyberspace, on the airwaves, and throughout the halls of the Rose Garden that they do not want to see Felton in a Trail Blazers uniform next season.
Despite not dealing Felton at the deadline, a notion has been set that the team is ready to make a move toward the future. Wallace, Camby, Nate McMillan and Greg Oden were all sent packing, and the idea has been planted inside the minds of each and every fan that change is on the horizon and that brighter days are just around the corner.
With a load of cap space, two potential lottery picks—to use or trade—and a newfound sense of progression gleaming from within the organization, there’s no reason to bring back a player who was so much a part of the problem for so long this season.
In the midst of the youth movement taking place in Portland, watching Felton return to the team next season would feel like a step backward, and would be a confusing move at best to a fan base that has been so disgusted at so many points this year.
Felton deserves recognition for his improvements, and his play has possibly even earned him a bigger deal than fans in Portland want to admit.
Just don’t expect it to be with the Blazers, though, as it’s time for the two sides to part ways once this dreadful season reaches its disappointing conclusion April 26.
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