Should he stay or should he go: Raymond Felton

In case you missed our initial should he stay or should he go posts you can catch up by reading the debate on J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler.

If Denver is going to run, Felton is an important cog
By:  Jeremy

The case for keeping Raymond Felton does not require pitting Felton against Ty Lawson for who will be the starting point guard as most Nuggets fans might think.  Obviously the Nuggets need two point guards and with Felton and Lawson Denver would have the best lead guard rotation in the NBA.  The real key to the duo is how well they play together.  George Karl has long been a proponent of having two ball handlers on the floor at once.

The Nuggets blew several games wide open late in the season with Lawson and Felton on the floor together at the same time.  With Lawson and Felton available, willing and able to push the ball in transition Denver maintained their standing as the most efficient offense in the league even after parting with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

The benefit is also not only in transition, but with two players capable of getting into the lane on the court together it opens up the floor for others to take advantage of.  Whether it be through passes at the rim, driving lanes or open jumpers Felton and Lawson were adept at finding open looks for their teammates.

The other aspect of Felton’s game is he was the one Nugget who was not afraid to have the ball in his hands and take a shot late in the game against the Thunder in the playoffs.  Sure, he failed, but most players fail before they succeed.  He has the cojones and that is something you are born with.  He did have a couple of impressive games in the regular season such as his 22 point second half explosion against the Lakers that proved to be the beginning of the end of the Lakers’ dynasty.

There is another factor at play in the debate as to whether or not to hang onto Raymond.  Great teams have symmetry between the coach and front office.  They agree on philosophy and management does their best to bring in players who fit that shared philosophy.  The Nuggets have always been a running team and Karl is all about pushing the pace.  If the Nuggets are committed to playing fast then they need to put a team on the floor that is capable of fulfilling that vision.  As mentioned above, Denver was a dominant running team with Lawson and Felton.

Felton and Lawson are both under contract, let them continue to play together, blow people off the court and give Felton a chance to continue to grow as a player in Denver.  Plus with Lawson and Felton on board hopefully we can avoid a return of Anthony Carter.

Dealing Felton is mandatory
By: Kalen

For me, the situation surrounding Raymond Felton is pretty cut-and-dry: We need to trade him. The real conundrum is figuring out when we’re going to deal him, what we’re going to receive in return and who else we might need to package with him in order to maximize his optimal value. Earlier this week I petitioned, somewhat softly, for the trading of Felton as soon as this upcoming draft in order to squash a potential locker room distraction (Felton being upset over not starting) before it ever had the chance to materialize. I figured with the amount of point guards slated to go in the early part of the second round it would be a great opportunity to send Felton packing, then select a replacement for him with a draft pick or two we’d receive in return. Though I still believe this is a viable option for the Nuggets to consider, I’ve since re-evaluated how firm my stance should be on this issue thanks to the enlightening commentary of Roundball reader, Aussie Nugs Fan, who bluntly stated recently, “We have to get more for Felton than the 31st pick in the next draft.” You know Aussie Nugs Fan, you could be right.

Here’s the situational breakdown of Felton’s contractual status, my perception of his current street value and how they both tie together to ensure we get the most out of the talented, young point guard entering the “prime” of his career…

With only a year left on his current contract scheduled land him $7.5 million, Felton will once again become an unrestricted free agent for the second time in three years, and with that, he’ll be looking for what will undoubtedly be the biggest payday of his career. As with any player in this situation, it’s vital to showcase that you’ve reached apex of your abilities to ensure that all offers thrown your way will be everything you deserve and more. This situation is known as a “contract year” and throughout history has led to surprisingly different attitude changes and numbers outputs for nearly every type of player imaginable in the NBA. Felton should be no exception. He deserves to prove what type of player he can ultimately be and he just can’t do that while playing second-fiddle minutes behind Ty Lawson. Similar to how things unfold in Hollywood, in the NBA, the most lucrative contracts aren’t awarded to the best supporting actor.

But if you thought the Nuggets would jettison Felton out of the kindness of its heart, for the sole purpose of seeing him prosper in another location, you’ve got it all wrong. You see, the NBA is a business, and just like in any well run buisness, people use other people to get where they want to go. In our case, Felton is nothing more than an asset. He’s a 26-year-old starting point guard, who put up career numbers in New York to the tune of 17 points, nine assists and two steals per game before finding himself on the wrong end of Carmelo Anthony’s best impression of a spoiled rotten heir-to-a-throne, begging for more dessert after a nice, steak dinner — or in this case, a bevy of 50-win seasons and playoff appearances topped with trip to the Western Conference Finals (seriously, what more could you want?). By my estimation Felton should have never found his way to Denver in the first place, but management spoke loud and clear with the seeing-off of Chauncey Billups, and their messages was: “We have so much faith in our young, lightening-quick backup point guard that we’re willing to trade away a local icon and one of the most cherished fathers of Denver sports, in order to give him unrivaled control over his specific position.” Bottom line: If they were willing to get rid of Chauncey for the sake of Ty, then there’s absolutely no way a temporary vagabond like Felton should interrupt his progression — none.

Determining Felton no longer belongs in Denver is the easy part; deciding who might join him on his way out is much more difficult. Though Felton is a solid young player, his value alone won’t make NBA franchises salivate. By adding an additional item to the menu — say Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari or Al Harrington — the appetizer becomes much more of a entree. But the Nuggets don’t have much to offer at this juncture without sacrificing our own aspirations of success in the process. The only players on the roster currently under contract until next year are Felton, Harrington, Andersen, Gallinari, Mozgov, Lawson and Koufos. Guys like Nene, Chandler and Afflalo could be on the team at the start of the 2011-12 season, but are in limbo for now as their contracts have expired. Still, Afflalo and Chandler are restricted free agents while Nene has a player option that’s looking more and more enticing with the rumors of players salaries taking a significant hit in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, so the likelihood of these guys returning and thus becoming trade-able seems somewhat high.

Of the assets — or players — Denver possess, only a select few could we afford to lose (notice how I say “afford”), who would simultaneously increase the value of a Felton-based package: Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari. Afflalo and Ty are obviously not options for nearly every reason imaginable, while Mozgov, Koufos and Birdman simply don’t carry much value on the market, which renders their inclusion with Felton virtually useless. Though we’d all love to see Big Al (aka the Hamburgler) packaged with Felton, his contract and level of play this past year will be more off-putting than inviting. At only 31 years of age, Al played more like a miniature version of the Shaq in his final year as a pro, than he did just one year prior to joining the Nuggets when he put up career numbers across the board. In this aspect, he’s more similar to Mozgov, Bird and Koufos, in that he just can’t offer much value at the moment, but unlike the vanilla trio, he’s proven that he’s capable of scoring up to 20 points per game for an entire season in the NBA and because of this fact alone, he is somewhat intriguing… and valuable… even if his contract isn’t. But again, if we’re gonna include other players with Felton, we need to go all out and include the ones that carry the most value so that we get an equal amount of value in return. There’s really no point of throwing in people just for the hell of it. It’s because of this that we narrow our candidates down to two: Gallinari and Chandler.

I’m just going to be blunt since it seems like it’s taking me forever to say something very simple: If anybody is to be included with Felton, it should be Chandler. Though I’d love to see Chandler re-signed, and still maintain that it’s in our best interest given the uncertainty surrounding J.R. Smith and our bench scoring, he’s the one guy that offers up a lot of value and who — as mentioned above — we can simultaneously afford to lose. With Gallinari all but guaranteed the starting small forward duties for the foreseeable future and Al Harrington — a more than serviceable backup — under contract for years, Chandler’s position is seemingly occupied here in Denver. Bundle this with the rumors that he’s wanted out of Denver since Day 1 and that he’d make a great (and I mean great) combination/package when amalgamated with Felton and you have the the makings of a potential blockbuster trade that could land Denver some serious, big-time assets. Ultimately, players are much more loyal to their franchises when comfortable, happy and satisfied. If Chandlertruly wants out of Denver and won’t settle for a backup role, then it’s in our absolute best interest to deal him with Felton to prevent him from taking the one-year qualifying offer on his contract, playing out next season, then becoming a totally unrestricted free agent in 2012 and leaving for nothing. Management should discuss this at great detail with Chandler this summer and my guess is that whether he goes or stays will depend upon his satisfaction coming off the bench. So if you see Chandler in a Nuggets uniform next season, there’s about a 90 percent chance he’s still with us for at least a few more years after that. If not, then he made it clear he’s unhappy coming off the bench and won’t stick around to see this trend carry on into the future.

So… basically through this discourse we’ve figured out what hinges on whether Felton will be dealt alone or with company, and that’s Wilson Chandler’s level of satisfaction coming off the bench. I guess there could be a scenario where he is still happy as a bench player, yet management sees his value and knows that when combined with Felton there’s a pretty tantalizing package up for grabs. Just off the top of my head, I’d say the duo of these two could fetch us package in return that includes any combination of multiple first-round draft picks, role players (though it’s hard to see us trading role players for… more role players) or an All-Star caliber player (someone along the lines of Zach Randolph, Monta Ellis, Josh Smith, etc.). But again, I’m going to come back to my original thesis, that once you obtain good players you should do your best to retain them. If Chandler is dead-set on leaving it’s one thing, but if he’s willing to stay, I don’t necessarily see his inclusion with Felton as that advantageous to the Nuggets. I firmly believe that Masai Ujiri can nail his draft picks, even if they are towards the latter part of the first round, and put us in a position to consistantly be competitve in the Western Conference. If one day, the opportunity arises to obtain a franchise player and perennial All-Star, then we should no doubt jump on it, but right now I feel compiling as much talent as we can, riding the coattails of Lawson (who I feel has the ability to take us to the next level), hitting our draft picks and courting free agents should be our top priorities. I think a common misconception about the NBA is that you must first obtain a franchise player or two by slumming in the doldrums of the lottery for years before you can contend, but how many countless number of teams do this endlessly and never improve? I think establishing a solid infrastructure and culture of winning should be a franchise’s top priority, first and foremost, then as the success perpetuates the “franchise players” should naturally fall in line one way or another.

So what say you faithful RMC readers?  Should Felton stay or should he go?

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  • zcott

    lol yeah right like you could get zach randolph for raymond felton and wilson chandler….wishful thinking!

    • Kalen

      Obviously Randolph is out of the picture for an assortment of reasons (mainly being that the Grizzlies are set at PG and SF and just came off its most successful season in franchise history), but I still think a player of his caliber (one-time All-Star, yet on the fringe perennially) on a team with a history of a less-than-optimal success rate is totally realistic. I don’t think people fully realize how much better the combo of Felton and Chandler will make a team. When given the chance to start and play 35 minutes plus, these guys are gonna put up very strong numbers. I think if Monta Ellis is truly on the market we should definitely look into it because trays type of impact player we should aspire to obtain with the pieces we have.

  • Ryan

    I’m pretty sure that if you re-sign a restricted free agent he can’t be traded for a year, which would mean that neither Afflalo or Chandler could be traded with Felton.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      I believe the rule is that a RFA cannot be traded to a team with which he signs an offer sheet for a year. Basically if Chandler gets an offer sheet from the Kings, the Nuggets cannot match it and then trade him to the Kings for a year. However, the Kings can rescind their offer sheet which would allow Denver to sign Chandler and then trade him to Sacramento.

      Who else is excited to have a new CBA that we will all have to learn the convoluted rules again from scratch?

  • Ryan

    I’m thinking something along the lines of Felton and Mozgov for Kaman would be more realistic.

    • diehardnr1

      I say keep the team as intact as possible…
      Please Keep Mozy and Koufos! Denver has cried for a true C for a long, long time….now they have TWO! Keep and build around these talented YOUNG centers.
      Also makes Nene happy in his natural role, where he can be a beast…and sign KMart for less$$ and you have a solid Bigs presence. Plus Denver will need to make up for Gallo lack of D and RB’s until he learns how to box out.
      Speed never seems to be a problem in Denver…if any way possible, keep both Ty and Raymond.

      I honestly LIKE the team Nuggs have in place,,, BUT if I was going to change anything……
      Not sure about JR maturity,Chandler ankle, Birdman’s consistency and health, or even if Ely was ever on the team. Forbes worth another look, but could move in a package deal for a nasty, veteran Perkins type.

  • Jackson Consiglio

    trade gallo and felton for draft picks, not wc

  • Aurress

    @Ryan I’d much rather have Moz than Kaman. Maybe its just based on potential. Maybe its Kaman’s age & frailty.

    I think the Nuggets will end up trading Felton for a serviceable bench PG & a future mid-1st rd draft pick.

    I’d love to see the Nuggets manage to simply keep this exact same roster together for 1 more year. But that is probably just wishful thinking.

  • Andrew

    I agree with the Felton/Chandler for a pick and player(s) scenario, though it obviously depends on what we get. Just based on what I saw last year, Gallo is better than, and will continue to be better than, Chandler. Chandler shrunk in the playoffs. Gallo wasn’t amazing, but he went down taking shots and working hard. Chandler was awful at the end. Either his heart is not into playing for Denver or he just does not have much heart. Either way, I say trade him and Felton before they become malcontents.

  • Ernie

    I’m not a fan of going back to a lousy 2nd team point guard like Anthony Carter. If they are offered a quality young running PG either through the draft or in trade then fine, perhaps Felton can be offered if some value can be attained.

    But the problem is they actually need a third PG because JR Smith was considered that last year. So now the team would have to find 2 more backups for Ty which doesn’t seem so easy to do. I’d hate to make a trade and create a problem in what now is an area of strength.

  • mozgovian g

    we need to try and trade felton and possibly chandler for greg oden. It would be a high risk but could help tremendously. It would allow nene to move to power forward. Hopefully he could stay healthy

  • dylan

    greg oden???? might as well push for yao..we can afford it now with out Martins 17 mill on the books.

  • dylan

    jk

  • ParkHillNative

    Question for Jeremy:

    Is it really a good idea for the Nuggets to remain committed to being a fast-paced, running team if they ever want to actually contend for a championship?

    It seems to me like winning an NBA championship requires solid, lock-down defense that can get stops at key moments of big games, and an excellent, well-executed half court offense that can produce open shots at key moments of big games. It seems like year after year after year, the Nuggets try to work with this blueprint that says “We’re used to the altitude in Denver and our opponents aren’t! We’ll run everybody off the court and win 30+ home games during the regular season!” And then the playoffs come and everything slows down and the Nuggets struggle to score in the half court and lose in the first round.

    Maybe time for a new blueprint? Like maybe an excellent, well-executed half court offense, similar to what other championship winners have?

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      I have gone on record, although it was a couple of years ago, saying Denver must change the way they play as fast paced teams have not had success in the playoffs. As you pointed out you need to get stops and execute. I would love to see Denver go after players who play great team defense and can shoot and get away from focusing on running so much. The biggest problem is Denver has never had that franchise rock who will do all he can at both ends of the floor and serve as a leader who demands that everyone else fall in line behind him.

  • Wilson

    I’m a Blazer fan and have been floating this idea:

    Felton and Harrington
    for
    Miller, Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Joel Freeland, 2011 20th pick (from MN for Rudy Fernandez and cash)

    Freeland is one of the best big men in Europe at 6’11″ 225
    Elliot Williams is a freak athlete with 42in vert at SG
    Babbitt is just to make the salaries work, altho the man can shoot

    I know its rough to help out a division rival but we take your worst contract and you get a young front-court prospect, a young SG prospect and a draft pick.

    Thoughts?

    • Kalen

      That’s a tough call Wilson. The thing that worries me a bit, is the caliber of players we’d be sending your way. You’d be getting Felton in his prime and although Harrington had a down year this past season, he’s fully capable of putting up big time numbers (see New York).

      With Miller — the best player in the deal — we’d only be getting him for one year, and that’s not really what we’re interested in for giving up Felton, or Harrington for that matter. Then the other guys just seem like total busts. Freeland just signed a five-year deal in Europe in 2009, so who knows what the buyout situation would be like with him; Williams hasn’t really ever shown that he can be a contributer at the next level and already has knee issues; Babbit after being selected really high, looked pretty overwhelmed when I saw him play; so the only piece of the deal that interests me is the 20th pick in this years draft.

      All that said, I’d be very intrigued with the prospect of obtaining that pick from you guys, but I’m pretty sure it’s 21 you’d be giving us instead of 20. I think the gold in this draft is right around that area and I know the Blazers are going to take a player we covet right before us, so we could really kill two birds with one stone by preventing you from drafting a potential stud and simultaneously getting one for ourselves. If we could somehow land a combination of Faried, Brooks, Tyler, Nogueira, Vucevic, Harris, Jenkins, Shumpert, etc. then I’d be an extremely happy man.

  • Aaron

    If the Nuggets are going to trade Felton, either with another player or by himself, then they should only consider doing it for a starting big, or a mid-first round pick…someone like Josh Smith. I’ve heard Monta Ellis mentioned a few times but why move a developing team leader like Afflalo to the bench?

  • Vitaliy

    Is there any possibility of denver getting Dwight Howard with a combination offer of Nene, Felton, and Chandler? To me, Howard would be a perfect fit for the style the Nuggets want to play, and gives us an advantage at center that the Nuggets have not had consistently since Dikembe.

  • http://sports-glory.com/group/denvernuggets Sports-Glory

    I think the Nuggets need to find players that can set a tone to the game and play calm and confident. Running up and down the floor and taking quick shots doesn’t work in the playoffs.