NBA / Mar 18, 2010 / 1:03 pm
Ray Felton could be Indiana’s next point guard
By Austin Burton
One of the 800 rumors to see the light of day around the NBA trade deadline was of a proposed deal sending T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush to the Bobcats for D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed.
At the time, Charlotte reportedly decided against making the move, mainly because T.J. is slated to make $8.5 million next season and then-owner Bob Johnson was hesitant to take on that much cap space on a borderline starter. But now that Michael Jordan is taking over as majority owner of the ‘Cats — assuming he was the one interested in Ford in the first place before Johnson vetoed it — he might be willing to take more risks with his money. A couple days after the Bobcats played at Indiana, Charlotte Observer beat writer Rick Bonnell wondered if Ford could be part of the Bobcats’ offseason plans this summer, in a sign-and-trade for free agent Ray Felton.
As the Bobcats challenge for the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth this year, their core unit is mostly set in place for the next few years. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson are under contract through 2013, Boris Diaw through 2012, and Augustin and Henderson are still on their rookie deals. Tyson Chandler has a $12.5 million player-option for next season, which he’d be crazy to give up and test the market.
Felton, despite being one of the few staples for the organization as the full-time starting point guard for the last four-plus seasons, is now a wild card. Seeking a long-term deal last summer, he could only land a one-year agreement ($5.5M) with the ‘Cats. And if the team didn’t want to commit to him then, I don’t see why they’d do it now, since Felton hasn’t gotten significantly better this year — in fact, his scoring and assist numbers (11.8 ppg, 5.5 apg) are down, although his shooting percentages are up.
As a Pacers fan, I like a Felton-for-Ford deal. Every time you want to completely give up on T.J., he comes through with a good stretch, like when he bounced back from a month-long benching to average 13.6 points in February. But it’s time to move on.
Felton is a better long-term option who is more of a pure point guard than a scorer who just happens to be short. He’s got a track record of hitting clutch shots and has developed a more reliable outside jumper, hitting 37% beyond the arc this season, and he’s better defensively. Felton would make a solid PG/scorer combo with Danny Granger, and if Roy Hibbert keeps progressing in the middle, if Tyler Hansbrough can get (and stay) healthy, if Dahntay Jones remembers he’s there for defense and doesn’t try to become a scorer, the Pacers would have a nice young core plus a Lottery pick coming in, ideally a two-guard like Evan Turner or an athletic big man like Derrick Favors.
If the Bobcats for whatever reason still want Ford this summer, Indy needs to make that deal.