Written by Kenneth Teape
New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton received some good news Monday morning, as he will avoid jail time after reaching a plea agreement on two felony gun charges he had been facing since late February.
Per the agreement made, Felton has to plead guilty to one of the two charges, which were third degree criminal possession of a weapon or criminal possession of a firearm. In addition, he has to complete 500 hours of community service, pay a $5,000 fine, register as a gun offender and he cannot appeal the case, waiving that right.
Felton did not talk at the hearing Monday morning, and did not take questions from reporters either once out of the courtroom. He did issue a statement for all to hear once outside.
“I just want to say that I want to thank the DA for being fair to me in this whole situation. I want to thank all my friends, my family especially, my fans, everybody just for supporting me and understanding the person I am.”
It has been a tumultuous time for Felton, who has had these charges hanging over his head since February 25th when he turned himself in. His wife, Ariane Raymundo-Felton, alleged that he threatened her with a firearm. She also filed for divorce from Felton just a week prior to this incident.
Felton is fortunate to receive the decision that he did, because it could have been much worse. New York sports fans remember Plaxico Burress having to deal with gun charges in 2008, derailing the New York Giants season when they looked poised to challenge for another Super Bowl. Burress received a two year jail sentence; Felton’s charges carried a maximum of seven years in prison. He should consider himself lucky to receive the sentence that he did.
On the basketball side of things, Felton has two years remaining on the four-year $15 million contract he signed prior to the 2012-2013 season, with a player option on the end.
He had arguably the worst season of his career last year, averaging a career-low 9.7 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting and only 5.6 assists per game. Stats like that will make it hard for Felton to be moved, but the Knicks will certainly try.
Earlier in the offseason, it was reported that Jackson planned on moving on from Felton, essentially telling him during his exit interview that his chances of staying with the team were slim to none. With Felton avoiding jail time, the chances of Jackson being able to move Felton increased. The only thing Felton and whatever team he plays on next season has to worry about is a suspension from the NBA.
Where Felton will be moved is a whole different animal. It is hard to imagine a team taking on Felton willingly, so a more realistic option would be him being added into a bigger trade. For example, a team wanting Tyson Chandler, it is conceivable the Knicks try to convince them to take on Felton as well. It is the type of trade that would have only been a pipedream in recent seasons, as the Knicks were usually the ones taking on poor contracts.
Another option is being packaged with Iman Shumpert. The Knicks were close to trading Shumpert at the 2014 trade deadline, but the deals were off after they insisted on including Felton in the deal. The bartering back and forth between taking back a first round draft pick and moving Felton stalled all of the deals. With the offseason now on our hands and the draft right around the corner, the Knicks are again shopping Shumpert in hopes of getting into the first round of what is a loaded draft.
There is interest in Shumpert, and the Knicks should take advantage and try pawning Felton off on another team. Felton’s days as a serviceable starting point guard look to be behind him, but he would easily be a top reserve guard with the capabilities of spot starting when necessary. A team like the Thunder could have a use for Felton with Derrick Fisher retiring and coaching the Knicks now, and previously having interest in Shumpert.
While it may be tough moving Felton, the Knicks do not have many other options replacing him. They have already been linked to liking Patty Mills, but being armed with only the mini-mid level exception he may not be in their price range. While many people will see it as a disappointment if Felton is still the starting point guard for the Knicks next season, it is the most likely scenario. The Knicks just have to hope the veteran point guard can bounce back after a tough 2013-2014 season.