As the Knicks look ahead, it can’t afford to do without Felton. The team returns to action on Wednesday when it battles the Charlotte Bobcats in a homecoming of sorts for him.
Felton was drafted by the Bobcats back in 2005 and, in 2010, helped the franchise to its first-ever winning season and playoff berth. Despite helping the Bobcats win 44 games, the team elected to allow Felton to defect to New York on a two-year contract worth about $16 million.
Felton felt disrespected by the Bobcats’ apparent lack of interest in retaining him, but today, several career stops later, is happy to be a member of the New York Knicks. Even still, games in Charlotte mean a lot to Felton, so the prospect of missing the game probably doesn’t sit well wit him. Odds are, he’ll try to give it a go and that’s good news for the Knicks.
At this point, the Knicks can ill afford to have their starting point guard head to the disabled list, especially after such a great performance. Collectively, the team has continually discussed its depth, but without Felton, a key ingredient, we’ll see.
If Felton is limited, Pablo Prigioni would undoubtedly see an increase in his minutes, and lately, he has shown signs of evolution. The major knock on Prigioni thus far has been that he has been too unselfish with the ball at times. Earlier this season, Prigioni made a habit of turning down good shots for himself in search of great shots for his teammates, and though that approach seems admirable, opposing defenses learn quickly.
Consistently passing up open looks makes a basketball player irrelevant on the court, and if defenses are able to ignore any individual on the floor, it hurts the team. Prigioni, though, has adjusted and has been looking for his offense a bit more, scoring 11 and eight points respectively in the two games leading up to Sunday.
On Sunday, Prigioni managed to play just eight minutes after receiving a shot to the nose that left him bloodied, but there were no indications his injury was serious.
What is serious, though, are these New York Knicks.
At 12-4, they are the second-seeded team in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday night, they will travel to Miami to battle LeBron James and the Heat in what could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview.
Sure, there’s a lot of season left, but the as long as they can stay healthy, the Knicks merit that type of consideration.
“We just got a bunch of guys who understand the game, that have been in big games and that have won big games,” Felton said after Sunday’s victory. “When you understand the game, you don’t necessarily make silly mistakes.”
On Sunday, Felton didn’t make any silly mistakes. If their winning ways are to continue, Mike Woodson and his club should only hope that Felton will have the opportunity to repeat his performance sometime soon—perhaps in the club’s next game on Wednesday.
If so, the Knicks and Heat could be playing for first place in the Eastern conference on Thursday night.
Jason Kidd has eyes in the back of his head, but not even he saw that coming.
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.