Raymond Felton again to point way for Knicks

The Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, left, shakes hands with The Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, left, shakes hands with Raymond Felton during Media Day at the New York Knicks training facility in Greenburgh. (Oct. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After the Knicks' first practice of the season, Mike Woodson basically named Raymond Felton the starting point guard Tuesday. That doesn't mean Jason Kidd won't finish games.

Who closes still has to be worked out, but Woodson loved hearing that Felton said he has a big chip on his shoulder heading into this season.

"I think it's great," Woodson said. "I think it's fantastic, not only for him, but our ballclub and the fans here in New York. It's important that he comes in with a chip on his shoulder. We're going to need him to play at a high level."

Felton's chip comes from criticism about his play in Portland last season when he admittedly was out of shape because he thought the lockout would cancel the season.

He worked on his conditioning in the offseason and probably got through Tuesday's nearly three-hour practice much better than he did Portland's first session last year.

"It's a big difference," said Felton, who averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists for Portland. "I was out of shape. This year, I'm in shape. My body's great."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Knicks acquired Felton in a sign-and-trade after Houston signed Jeremy Lin to a three-year, $25.1-million offer sheet. Although Kidd, a future Hall of Famer, already was on the roster, it was expected that Felton would be the Knicks' starting point guard.

Felton was successful in that role with the Knicks the first 54 games of the 2010-11 season, averaging 17.1 points and 9.0 assists before being sent to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Felton is looking forward to reprising his role, and erasing what happened last season.

" just [want] to come back and prove I'm the same point guard from before, before the Portland year," Felton said. "I'm happy to be back here. Everything is a business. There was no hard feelings when I left here, when we got traded. I had a good talk with Mr. [James] Dolan before I signed back here. I told him I always wanted to come back here. Just to get that opportunity, I was excited."

Kidd, a former Net, also is excited to be playing in the area again. And despite starting for most of his 18-year career, Kidd, 39, accepts he won't be fighting for a starting job.

"There's no competition," Kidd said. "Ray is the way Coach is going. My job is to win ballgames and help my teammates and make it as easy as possible. Ray can run the show as well as anybody. For me, it's to support Ray and help him with things I see and when I go in to get the lead or keep the lead. That's as easy as it can be."

Kidd said he's in the best shape he's been "in probably five years," and can play heavy minutes if needed. His leadership and ability to defend perimeter players are expected to have him on the floor at the end of games. Felton said he's fine if that happens.

"Whatever Coach decides to do," Felton said. "I'm all about winning. It's whatever it takes. I'm not going to get mad, get upset. I'm excited about the season. I'm excited about this team."

The Dolan family owns controlling interest in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

You also may be interested in: