Raymond Felton was never supposed to play a major role as a Maverick. He arrived in Dallas as an accounting afterthought in the Tyson Chandler trade, an out-of-favor Knicks point guard whose contract made the trade work.
And he basically lived up (down?) to expectations all year, sitting out the first few weeks of the season with a sprained ankle before beginning a four-game suspension related to gun charges he faced in New York. Once he finally got out of street clothes, he tallied a true shooting percentage of just 48 percent and not doing much else to compensate on offense, though he was about average when it came to taking care of the ball. It wasn’t hard to see why a guy like Felton had some trouble fitting into the high-flying Dallas offense early in the season.
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He made some useful contributions on the other end of the floor, though. While most of the Dallas guards were letting opponents have their way from behind the arc, the three-point shooting of opponents guarded by Felton was slightly worse than usual, and he was quite good at defending closer in. Opponents shot 15.7 percentage points worse within six feet of the basket when Felton was guarding them and an impressive 17.6 worse when within 10 feet.
Felton averaged just under 10 minutes in the 29 games he played this season, making minimal contributions until the end of the season when the Mavericks needed him to step up.
Despite only playing in 24 games before mid-March, Felton morphed into a useful back-up point guard for the final month of the season. In his final five games of the season, with his minutes upped from 10 to 15 per game, he improved his overall shooting efficiency by nearly 10 percentage points to 49 percent and doubled his point per game. He was even bothered to grab the occasional rebound, harkening back to his glory days as an about average NBA player.
After a getting a few decent games under his belt, it would’ve been… well, probably not reasonable, but certainly not totally crazy to hope that Felton would make substantive contributions during the playoffs, especially in the wake of the late point guard unpleasantness. Unfortunately, "Playoff Felton" didn’t quite live up to late-season Felton’s standards:
Felton tweaked his hamstring during the playoffs and after playing just six minutes in Game Four, sat for the final game of the series against Houston.
2015-2016 salary - $3,950,313 (player option)
I’m no NBA salary expert, but my amateur read on the situation is that Raymond Felton should take his nearly $4 million next season and thank the deity of his choice that someone’s paying him to play professional basketball. Perhaps the looming salary cap spike has inflated the market for below average 30-year-old back-up point guards, but I fully expect Felton to take the option.
That means that he’ll be back in Dallas next season in a role probably not dissimilar to this year’s. While Rondo won’t be back with the Mavericks next year and Barea is an unrestricted free agent, Devin Harris has a guaranteed contract. If the Mavericks don’t move to acquire additional point guards, Felton may see more minutes as a back-up, but that wouldn’t bode well for the Mavs. It’s also possible he (and his expiring contract) could find himself once again proving useful from an accounting standpoint in a trade.