Carmelo Anthony’s move to the Big Apple may be taking up all the headline real estate, but Raymond Felton’s departure is also quite notable. He was neither a star nor a New York establishment, but like former-Knicks, now-Nuggets Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, Felton is a quality player and a legitimate starter.
However, the Anthony deal puts Felton in a decidedly less favorable situation. Not only does he lose his status as one of New York’s favorite basketball sons, but the Nuggets have no remaining players on-par with Felton’s former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire, and may not even have a starting job available for him. All signs point to Ty Lawson taking over Chauncey Billups’ role as Denver’s starting point guard, which puts an overqualified Felton into some kind of super-sub role. There’s nothing wrong with the Nuggets being deep at point guard; there are certainly far bigger problems in the NBA than having two starting-caliber players slotted at the same position. However, given the Nuggets’ need to actively rebuild, having that much talent at point guard isn’t necessarily the best way to establish a foundation for the team’s future.
That’s why -- despite reports indicating that the Nuggets intend to hang on to Felton -- another move seems imminent. It makes sense, and as followers of the game, we all crave order; every point guard should fall to a team in need of one, and every rebuilding team should liquidate all non-essential talent for assets. It’s just not that simple.
Masai Ujiri has some kind of plan in place here, and whether it works out or not, it apparently involves keeping Felton for the time being. It seems likely that the Nuggets will trade Felton before his contract expires, but for now Ujiri is content to sit on Felton’s trade value and call it a day. Considering the ways a new collective bargaining agreement could limit how teams go about upgrading their rosters, keeping Felton could be a wise move. It’s tough to evaluate this decision without knowing exactly how the structure of the CBA will look a few months from now, but it’s a low-risk proposition that could end up paying off handsomely for Denver.
So sorry Atlanta, Houston, or any other team that could use Felton’s services. You’ll have to wait.