Saturday, June 22, 2013
Ray Felton: 'We can win a championship'
By Jared Zwerling
On Saturday, a few days after hosting his eighth annual youth basketball camp near his hometown in South Carolina, Raymond Felton spoke exclusively with ESPNNewYork.com about his summer, his reflections on last season and his thoughts looking ahead to 2013-14.
Looking back on the season, what are some of the big takeaways for you?
"I thought we had a great year. Unfortunately, it didn't end the way we wanted it to, but it's something to build from. We got past the first round, which we haven't done in 13 years, so we've got to get over that hump. As long as we get better each and every year, our goal is to get out of the second round and then move on to the Eastern Conference finals, and see what happens when we get to that point."
Your team's fast-break numbers didn't show how effective you guys could be in that area. Being that the transition game is a strength of yours, do you think you guys should run more?
"No question. If we can get the ball up and down the court, and get easier shots, that's always great. If you've got opportunities, you definitely want to push the ball. But when the game gets to the last four, five minutes, that's when you've got to play half-court basketball, especially with one-on-one players who can get you buckets. I feel like we have a lot of those and I think we have one of the best, if not the best, in the league at one-on-one just getting a bucket with Carmelo [Anthony]."
Sometimes you played off the ball alongside Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. Is that a role you want to expand on?
"Of course. I mean, I'll do what I have to do. If I have to score a little bit more next year, then that's something that I have no problem with doing. But if I need to distribute, lay back and be more passive, I can do that as well. I'm a true point guard. I'll do whatever it takes to win."
When you entered training camp last season, you said you were in the best shape of your career. Do you want to duplicate a lot of what you did last summer?
"No question. I'm going to work 10 times harder because I see what we can do. I want to work as hard to get better and to get to the best where I can be. I see that we can win a championship with this type of team, so that's going fuel me to work even harder."
What's your training schedule like?
"I'm in the gym three times a day and I have three guys I work with: Denny Starr, Gilbert Abraham and Keith Veney. I get up in the morning and do my weight room, get on the court and do my skill work, and then I go back at night and get shots up. It's a straight grind; there's no summer."
Do you play in any leagues?
"For the most part, I just go back to Chapel Hill and pretty much everybody comes back -- all the guys who played in the pros. We play against the college guys. All of us stick together. Sometimes we have about 30, 40 guys in the gym and we have like two or three courts going on at the same time."
With the draft ahead, any thoughts to types of players your team might need?
"It's hard to say, man, because we've got to see what we're going to do free agency-wise, so I really can't say what we need. It could be a lot of things. It could be another point guard, it could be another scorer, it could be another big man. It's according to what we do in free agency, it's according to who we're able to sign back."
"I like that, man. I'm a competitive person. I don't shy away from nobody. Those guys will let you know that. I'm happy Rondo's coming back, I'm happy D-Rose is coming back. It means the games are going to be that much more exciting. I'm looking forward to it."
Being in New York City, surrounded by many off-the-court opportunities, has that encouraged you to explore new ideas?
"No question. I was doing a lot of things. I was able to start up my foundation. During the holidays, I gave away some gifts to some kids who live in foster homes without parents. I'm going to bring a group of kids on a field trip to the zoo this summer. I'm back part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was doing that when I was in Charlotte, so there are a lot of things in the making that I'm going to be involved in, and it's going to be more as the years go on."