GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Raymond Felton deferred to Jason Kidd in terms of leadership last season, he admitted Monday. Now Kidd is the coach of the Knicks' rivals in Brooklyn, so Felton is ready to take a step forward to replace the future Hall of Famer in the Madison Square Garden locker room.
"That's my job this year," Felton said. "I've got to step into that leadership role and so far, that's what I've been doing in training camp. I took a little step back last year to prove myself, to earn that respect from my teammates. Now this year, I can step into that role."
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Felton is one of three Knicks who have been assured a starting spot by coach Mike Woodson; Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are the others. Felton will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time, and Woodson wants to see more from the 29-year-old point guard.
"Without a doubt," Woodson said after a lengthy video session and scrimmage. "Ray and I have had this conversation before we started camp. He's got to be more of a leader.
"Point guards catch a lot of crap on everybody's team because we expect so much from them. And Ray's no different. I thought Ray really performed great for us last season, but I think he's got to be more vocal and show more of a leadership role more than ever now that Kidd is gone."
In the first year of his second stint with the Knicks, Felton averaged 13.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.3 turnovers in 68 regular-season games. His numbers were similar in the playoffs (14.1, 4.7, 2.2).
Felton came back to the Knicks after a disastrous season in Portland, one that he said left him with a chip on his shoulder that has not gone away.
"It's still there," he said. "I'm happy, for sure, because I'm happy to be here in New York and happy to be back here another season. But other than that, the chip is still there. I've got a bitter taste in my mouth -- I think we all have that taste in our mouths for the way the season ended last year -- so the chip is still there. If anything, it's another chip and it's on the other shoulder now."
Felton played alongside Kidd and Pablo Prigioni at times last season. This year, the Knicks have another third point guard in Beno Udrih who is expected to play. But Felton is going to be the main ballhandler.
"It did feel good to run up and down the court a couple times and not have the ball in my hand," he said. "It's going to be fun to do that again this year because me, Beno and Pablo, we can all play together."