When it was made official this week that Raymond Felton was returning to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade with Portland, it sounded an alarm for fans that Jeremy Lin would be leaving.
But there was some school of thought that Felton, Lin and Jason Kidd could interchange in the backcourt together, with one of them occasionally playing off the ball. Well, that could've happened because Felton was open to the idea of coming to New York even if Lin was there.
"If they were going to match Lin, then obviously it would've been something that I thought about," Felton told MSG Network on Thursday in Las Vegas during a Knicks summer league game. "But at the same time, I think I still would've come here, because this is where I wanted to be, this is where I wanted to play, and on top of that, I have confidence in my game."
Felton understands some fans still have their minds on Linsanity, and a Lin vs. Felton debate could arise, but he believes he's the better point guard, regardless of how much money each is making. And he's going to step up to whatever adversity that's in front of him.
"I thought what he did was one of the best I've seen in basketball in a long time and I wish him the best of luck," he said. "I'm not here to get into that he was getting way too much. I hear a lot of people saying that. I feel like if you can get money, go get it.
"At the same time, I'm a competitor. Do I think I'm better? Of course I'm going to say that. I think I'm better than any point guard. That's the way I'm supposed to think, but at the same time, there's nothing personal between me and Jeremy. I know everybody's going to try to make it that way, and if it'll be that way, then so be it. I'll be ready for the challenge. I'll be better then."
Better than 2010-11, because he was playing at an All-Star level that season? That's when Felton, in 54 games as a Knick, averaged career-highs in points (17.1) and assists (9.0). Felton said he "felt right at home" in New York, and it took him by surprise that he was being included in a trade for Carmelo Anthony in Feb. 2011. In fact, he didn't even realize it would happen until two days before, and the whole situation made him "pretty upset."
"I wasn't necessarily mad, but frustrated with the situation," he said. "I was having my best year, I was having a great time in New York and the fact that I got traded. I didn't want to leave, but I'm back home now."
Felton's now also playing with Anthony. Coincidentally, both of them, including Amare Stoudemire, were three of the top players in the 2002 high school class. Felton said he's "excited" about the opportunity to be the starting point guard this time around because of the additional passing options. In addition to Melo, he said he's looking forward to running the pick-and-roll again with Stoudemire, lobbing the ball to Tyson Chandler, finding Steve Novak and J.R. Smith on the wings and playing alongside and learning from Kidd.
Felton, who will wear No. 2 again, said the Knicks have enough pieces to reach the Finals.
"A lot of people are not really talking about the Knicks, but I think you really have to," he said. "I think we're pretty solid at every position, and we've got great guys coming off the bench."
Felton admitted the reason for his poor play in Portland last season, averaging only 11.4 points and 6.5 assists per game (while shooting 40.7 percent from the field), was because he entered training camp out of shape.
"When I came in, I wasn't at the weight that I normally be in," he said. "I'm the first one to say that, I wasn't in shape. That's all everybody wants to talk about. I look forward to this year to shutting up everybody's mouth.
This offseason, he jumped on training early.
"I'm in shape," he said. "I'm ready to play right now."
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.