Earlier today, in an expansive Insider-only piece for ESPN that we summarized here, Chris Broussard reported that two players the Blazers are particularly willing to bring up in trade talks are former Charlotte teammates Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace. Broussard characterizes Felton as "uncomfortable and unhappy," and there have been some rumblings around the point guard of late, so let's take a look at what he can offer.
The past 12 months have not gone as planned for Felton, who was atop the free agent point guard market in the summer of 2010 and drew All-Star consideration after a strong first half with the Knicks last year. He went to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade and suddenly found himself on the bench behind fellow former Tar Heel Ty Lawson. Shipped off again this past summer to Portland, Felton has posted career lows in PER (10.8), PPG (10.2) and shooting percentage (37.6%) and recently lost his starting job to Jamal Crawford.
Felton, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, spoke earlier this season of wanting to re-sign with the Blazers. His more recent comments seem to indicate he’s not as keen on sticking around anymore. The Lakers have reportedly begun to sniff around. His contract, which pays him $7.56MM this year, is expiring, so it’s not hard to see Felton getting traded for the third time in a little more than a year.
The latest we hear on the Lakers and Felton is that he and Ramon Sessions are the team’s top choices at point guard. He fits the Lakers’ needs at that position, but unless the Blazers want to go with Crawford, a combo guard, as the long-term starter at the one, such a move would leave a lot of question marks in Portland. Even though ex-Blazer Steve Blake was the starter in Portland as recently as 2009/10, I doubt the Blazers are high on Blake or Derek Fisher, both of whom have multiple years left on their deals. Realistically, another team would have to be in on the trade for Felton to get to L.A.
An intriguing destination for Felton might be Dallas, where Jason Kidd’s shooting, which had helped him perpetuate his career, has deserted him as he stares down his 39th birthday in March. The Mavs could take Felton in the hopes he returns to the 17.1 PPG, 9.0 APG form he exhibited in New York and can contribute to a title defense. They’d have Felton’s Early Bird rights, so if they missed out on Deron Williams this summer, they’d have the inside track on re-signing Felton, who’s 12 years younger than Kidd. The Blazers would replace someone who might not want to be there with a steadying influence who can help them nail down a playoff berth. This would be a low-risk trade for the two sides, since both contracts are expiring, but it’s just my speculation at this point.