NBA Daily: Free-Agent Watch: Centers | Basketball Insiders


For all of his life, Raymond Felton’s by no means been a tattoo man.

Jermichael Wright, his finest pal, makes a residing on the planet of ink design as an artist along with his personal store.

Collectively at Latta Excessive Faculty in South Carolina, the 2 gained back-to-back state championships in 2001 and 2002. With profession averages of 39 factors, 9.1 rebounds eight.9 assists and 5.6 steals per recreation, Felton led the Vikings to a 104-9 file over 4 seasons and earned the Naismith Prep award his senior 12 months amongst future family names, together with upstart junior LeBron James, earlier than making a memorable run on the College of North Carolina.

But it surely wasn’t the accolades and private accomplishments that caught with Felton; it was the message he and Wright lived by that made it potential — GBMS, the very phrase the longtime NBA veteran had tattooed on his proper arm this previous 12 months.

“It means God Bless My Success,” Felton advised Basketball Insiders in an unique telephone interview. “It’s an on a regular basis factor for me. Each dang day.”

One week in the past right this moment marked a full 12 months since Felton turned a free agent. Following a two-season stint with the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, he didn’t find yourself signing with a staff. It’s the primary time that the recently-turned 36-year-old hasn’t performed professionally since getting into the Affiliation in 2005.

That’s fairly an adjustment for any person who’s been round hoops his whole life; nevertheless, his on a regular basis routine hasn’t actually modified. Felton just isn’t finished with the sport but. Nonetheless residing in Oklahoma Metropolis, he’s been coaching, staying in form and, most significantly, sustaining a nutritious diet as he will get older.

“It was robust, mentally, not with the ability to do one thing that you just like to do and have a ardour for,” Felton mentioned of lacking the motion. “I really like basketball. I’d do it even when I wasn’t getting paid to do it. However me, understanding that I’m 36 and getting in the direction of the top of my profession, I simply didn’t need it to finish like that. In order that’s why I’m not retiring.

“I really feel like I can nonetheless play. If I get to the purpose the place I really feel like I can’t transfer the way in which I used to, then that’s letting me know that it’s time for me to let it go. Even when I’ve obtained to go the world over, I’m going to play basketball for an additional two years to fulfill myself and the way I wish to finish it.”

This previous spring, faulty studies surfaced that Felton was signing with Czech Republic Second Division membership GBA Jindrichuv Hradec to proceed his enjoying profession. So what occurred?

Felton spoke with a coach for the staff, who occurs to be a pal of his from North Carolina. The coach tried to influence him to come back abroad and be a part of them for a event, so Felton did some analysis out of curiosity. It didn’t go far. He was provided cash and had a dialog with the overall supervisor of the membership, however phrases have been by no means agreed upon, nor near agreed upon. In truth, his agent didn’t even communicate with the staff’s administration.

“I began getting all types of telephone calls from individuals saying, ‘Hey man, you signed with the Czech Republic and you may’t even go to the Czech Republic,’” Felton mentioned. “I’m like, ‘No, I’m at house. I’m not going wherever.’ I don’t know. It was only a massive mix-up with that.”

The closest Felton got here to enjoying was final summer season. He was figuring out with the Houston Rockets regularly and felt the group would supply him a contract. They didn’t even invite him to coaching camp within the fall. Ideally, Felton would love to choose up the place he left off within the NBA with a staff that values his presence.

“I nonetheless really feel like I’ve obtained loads that I can supply, however you understand how that goes generally within the league now. They wish to go younger. They wish to do various things. It may be unlucky generally.”

It’s not the primary time that Felton’s been on the incorrect aspect of girl luck. After 4 dropping seasons with the then-named Charlotte Bobcats, the staff made the playoffs and seemed to be set on a franchise turnaround; it didn’t work out the way in which he thought it could.

Felton went on to signal with the New York Knicks in the summertime of 2010, a transfer that turned out to be excellent for each the staff and himself. By means of 54 video games, Felton was averaging career-bests in factors (17.1), assists (9) and free throw proportion (86.7), all in over 38 minutes per contest.

Led by All-Star massive man Amar’e Stoudemire, younger abilities like Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and promising rookies — Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov — the Knicks have been in the midst of the playoff pack with a 28-26 file and issues have been trying up in The Huge Apple.

However, the group had a chance to strike gold with a hometown famous person, Carmelo Anthony, aching to play for New York. The Knicks went with the latter possibility and made a blockbuster three-way commerce to accumulate ‘Melo from the Denver Nuggets. Felton, together with a number of key contributors and younger abilities, was made expendable. It’s a state of affairs that begs the query: “What if?”

“I’ve obtained the identical query you bought,” Felton chuckled. “’What if? What if y’all simply waited?’ ‘Melo was gonna come anyway. He was gonna come anyway in free company that summer season. Identical to…I don’t know man. To me, that staff was particular and I assumed it might’ve been actually particular. I want to have seen what we might’ve finished, however that’s how the league goes generally.”

After ending the 12 months out with the Nuggets, Felton was dealt but once more to the Portland Path Blazers, the place he spent one brief season due to a lockout. He returned to New York within the 2012 offseason through one other commerce and in the end performed with the person he was moved for. Underneath new head Mike Woodson and alongside new teammates, Felton was part of the perfect Knicks staff because the late ‘90s. Felton thought that group had a “massive probability” at a title, and regardless of a sequence loss to the Indiana Pacers within the second spherical of the postseason, it was an excellent 12 months.

Following his second go-round with New York, Felton bounced round with three groups over 5 years. When the Knicks despatched him to the Dallas Mavericks in June 2014, an damage compelled him out of the rotation his first season there. Regardless of receiving DNPs for the primary time in his profession, he credit Rick Carlisle for being upfront with him about his preliminary function. Felton labored his tail off to earn a spot the following season and did so; he gave key performances for the staff within the playoffs. Once more, he assumed he’d signal again with the Mavericks when his contract expired, nevertheless it fell by means of the cracks.

So his subsequent choice was signing with the Los Angeles Clippers to again up Chris Paul. It wasn’t a nasty name, as Felton acquired over 20 minutes of enjoying time per evening over 80 video games (plus the playoffs). Even in his first season with the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder the next 12 months, Felton had a constant function and appeared in each recreation. He re-signed with them two summers in the past considering he’d have the identical obligation. That didn’t occur.

“I had already signed again as a free agent,” Felton defined. “Then [OKC] made that commerce later in the summertime once they removed ‘Melo to go to Atlanta after which they obtained Dennis Schroder over there. Then they kinda simply principally advised me that they have been gonna play him because the backup level guard. And it was similar to, effectively, okay, kinda want I’d’ve identified that going into free company earlier than I signed again.”

No onerous emotions from Felton, although. He made nice associates in his Thunder days and nonetheless retains in contact with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams and Schroder, the younger guard that overtook his former function.

He’s discovered the way in which the league works and the unfortunate breaks that include being part of it, firmly believing that the power to adapt is the one path to longevity.

It was as latest because the 2019 NBA Playoffs the place Felton confirmed his talents in spurts, most notably a fast stint in Recreation four between the Thunder and Portland Path Blazers. He scored eight factors in fast trend and ignited a run that spurred the Chesapeake Power Enviornment crowd right into a frenzy, a second he felt confirmed groups, and the world, that he hasn’t misplaced a step.

Felton isn’t misplaced of confidence, and he gained’t ever be. He is aware of he can impression successful — capturing, protection, being a flooring common — in no matter quantity of minutes are given to him, in addition to in a mentorship function.

“You get put in a state of affairs the place loads of groups who’re successful groups or are veteran groups that kinda have already got their staff set, and me going to a younger staff would principally be one other coach, a player-coach. So that you go right into a state of affairs like that and also you already know you’re not gonna be enjoying ’trigger they’re rebuilding. They’re attempting to deal with their younger guys.

“And I’m to the purpose now the place I simply wish to be across the recreation. I’m keen to try this. I’m keen to be a player-coach to assist younger guys and assist them develop their expertise and assist them study the sport, mentally. As a result of just about everyone has the bodily attributes, however loads of them miss the psychological a part of it that’s actually essential about being an NBA participant. So I’m keen to have the ability to assist in that side and nonetheless simply be prepared if my quantity known as.”

When you’re anticipating to see Felton in an NBA uniform anytime quickly, it in all probability gained’t be throughout the league’s restart this month. Like many, he has issues with the bubble surroundings on the World of Disney in Orlando. From who he’s spoken to, there have been “iffy” emotions towards the plan itself. Between the surge of coronavirus circumstances in Florida and the battle in opposition to racial injustice and police brutality, Felton isn’t positive if the gamers shall be there from a psychological standpoint.

“I kinda want they might’ve similar to canceled the season, simply actually cancel it and simply deal with the draft and deal with that upcoming season and simply let this one go,” Felton mentioned. “And I do know it’s by no means been finished; it’s been a very long time since that ever occurred, nevertheless it’s been a very long time because the world’s been coping with what we’ve been coping with proper now, too.

“Even the fellows who really feel the way in which I really feel, we miss the sport too. I miss it like loopy. I ain’t performed in a complete 12 months, so I’d like to go play. I’d love that, however to not danger getting sick or danger my life or danger one thing occurring to my youngsters or my household. Nah, it’s simply…to not end a season. (If) we talkin’ about beginning up a complete new season, then okay, that’s a special story. However to love end and do that format that they’re attempting out proper now, nah. Not in my view. That’s my opinion, however not everyone feels that means, so.”

Regardless of his emotions on the comeback itself, Felton does really feel his associates and gamers throughout the league will use their platform in a optimistic method to have an effect on change. He shared poignant ideas on the problems occurring in our nation and our world.

“Something can assist at this level,” Felton mentioned. “What we’re coping with proper now could be simply one thing that simply must cease. It ain’t no racial factor. It ain’t no blacks in opposition to whites. It ain’t that. It’s simply that these cops, these unhealthy cops — ’trigger not all cops are unhealthy, I’ll say that; I’ve cop associates — however the ones who’re doing one thing that different cops must step up and make a stand and say, ‘Look, this isn’t how we’re alleged to do issues.’ You already know, you’re not supposed to place your knee down on that man’s neck for that lengthy and so they find yourself passing out and dying. You’re not alleged to shoot a person as a result of they’re working away from you and also you shoot ’em of their again. It’s simply too many cases the place these items are occurring, and it’s similar to, it’s obtained to cease.

“And I’m glad that everyone’s protesting and doing the issues they’re doing as a result of it’s like…these items are occurring, however no one’s doing nothing about it. It’s getting brushed up below the rug, and it’s like, no. Sufficient is sufficient. We drained. We finished. We finished with this. I shouldn’t should reply a query to my son asking me like, ‘Daddy I’m scared. Daddy, I’m scared to be black.’ And it’s like, what? Once I hear my child say one thing like that, now I’m offended, now I’m mad. It’s simply issues that gotta cease man. We’re coping with loads on the planet proper now with the (coronavirus) after which all these things that’s happening with Black Lives Matter, too.

“It’s simply robust instances proper now,” Felton continued. And I nonetheless really feel like we’re all gonna get previous this, we’re gonna get by means of this. Change is gonna occur as a result of we’re gonna demand change. We’re gonna demand change. After which with the (coronavirus), it’s simply one thing that we simply gotta keep sturdy as a rustic and simply wait this factor out, man. Simply be secure and everyone preserve training the issues we have to apply — social distancing, hand sanitizer, preserve your masks on, do the stuff you gotta do throughout these tough moments. It’s robust, man. These instances like this, you simply wanna be near your loved ones, near your youngsters and simply attempt to preserve ’em secure. You already know, it’s kinda onerous to focus on basketball when there’s a lot happening on the planet which you can’t ignore.”

Whereas Felton and Wright carry GBMS on of their respective lives, the 2 have envisioned beginning up a clothes line collectively. Felton’s already obtained the shirts and sweatsuits, and other people have all the time requested him in regards to the attire he wears. It’s a love that motivates him to undergo with it down the road.

When requested about his future in basketball as soon as his enjoying days are over, Felton appears uncertain. He does know he desires to be across the recreation. Nonetheless, it’s not the time to speak about that proper now. There’s unfinished enterprise left to care for in his eyes.

Felton’s path thus far has been stuffed with peaks and valleys. He’s had his justifiable share of moments on the high and on the backside.

“I really feel such as you’ve obtained to make errors and do issues in life in an effort to be a greater particular person and learn to be a greater particular person and a greater man in your life,” Felton mentioned. “Whether or not it’s (as) a father, a husband or a teammate or a pal or a son or a no matter it’s. You need to do some incorrect in an effort to study.

“So I don’t actually know if I’ve too many regrets as a result of I actually can’t complain with my life. Sure, I’ve been by means of some issues — I’ve been by means of some robust issues off the courtroom — however I’ve stayed centered, I’ve all the time stored God first and believed in God and believed that he’s gonna assist me get by means of this. Mentally, bodily, no matter. It’s all the time been that means. I’ve all the time gotten by means of all the pieces that I’ve went by means of.”

By means of all of it, Felton wouldn’t change a factor about how he obtained right here.



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