This story is not going to end well in Portland for Raymond Felton.
In many ways the tale has grown stale and already run its course, that is until the Blazers disgruntled point guard used his post game comments on Wednesday night to challenge the local media and any other Felton critics in Rip City to “come see me”.
Now a season of struggles and unhappiness in Portland has turned personal for Felton, who has become the lightening rod for the Blazers abysmal season featuring the firing of head coach Nate McMillan and trade deadline deals shipping out both Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby. Along with putting up his worst numbers as a pro — averaging a career-low 10.8 points per game, while shooting 39% from the field — his words come off as unprofessional and will only push fans further away.
“Regardless of what they say about me, I don’t care,” Felton said after Portland beat New Jersey 101-98 on a night where Felton finished with 14 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
“Words don’t break me. I stay right off Pearl District, in the Indigo, if you want to come see me.”
“I’m going to keep it 100 with them,” Felton declared. “You feel me?”
For a guy who says he would “love to come back” to Portland next season, he’s not exactly endearing himself to season ticket holders or scribes in a small NBA market where folks are quick to applaud all-out effort. Funny thing is, fans and media will also be the first ones to call out lackluster performances whenever they see them.
To use a Felton-ism, they’re always going to “keep it 100”.
Take Andre Miller for example. He’ll be the first to admit his two seasons in Portland weren’t exactly easy.
He had a well-publicized run-in with McMillan at a team practice. It took time for media to get used to Miller’s shy style and mumbling quotes that came off as standoffish. And in those two seasons the fan base walked the fine line of having an on-off response to Miller’s “old man game”. But in the end, Miller drew the respect from both the fans and the media. He always showed up (with his slow Dre Day swagger), produced on both ends, and even if he wasn’t a happy camper over the course of his tenure with the Blazers, he never once challenged fans or members of the media to “come see him” at his crib.
The same goes for Steve Blake, Armon Johnson, Sergio Rodriguez, Jarrett Jack, Jerryd Bayless or even Taurean Green for that matter.
Yet watching Felton this season no doubt makes a number of fans wish for the days when Miller was around to body block Blake Griffin. It sure beats the footage of Felton’s turnovers and dribbling the ball off of his foot out of bounds.
Allow me to fall on my own sword here.
Back in 2009 before Portland brought in Andre Miller, I was an advocate of Felton running the point for the Blazers. I liked the idea of a Felton and Brandon Roy backcourt. Felton was entering the last season of his contract with Charlotte and just came off a solid season where Felton averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 assists in 81 starts in the 2008-09 season. The whole weight debate never bothered me with Felton (although he’s still having to defend being out of shape this season). I’d seen enough of him from his days at North Carolina and first few years in the league to know he could run a team.
And that is still true. Felton can still run a team, but that team isn’t the Portland Trail Blazers, particularly regarding next season as the franchise starts to look big picture at their position heading into this offseason and preparing to make major moves in free agency and the NBA Draft.
Here are the numbers: Portland might end up with two lottery picks and they have $15-$20 million to lure players on the open market to town.
A free agent at the end of this season, Felton surely doesn’t want to hear the noise, but the Blazers will once again target a new point guard (insert Steve Nash and Deron Williams here) before focusing on signing a center.
“We can’t say ‘We are going after this guy, that guy, and this guy’,” Miller told Jason Quick of The Oregonian.
“But we have positioned ourselves to compete for those big-name players. And this is a strong draft. Whether we trade our picks, or use our picks, we are going to get better going into next season.”
Next season in Portland will be interesting considering another busy upcoming offseason for the Blazers. The summer can’t get here fast enough. But Felton won’t have to worry about all of that business.
When you come see him during the 2012-13 season, he won’t be wearing a Blazers jersey.