LOS ANGELES – Building relationships across the NBA becomes inevitable after 11 years in the league.
That’s part of why Raymond Felton, who officially signed Monday morning with the Clippers, already knows he’ll feel comfortable in his new surroundings.
“I’m excited to be here,” Felton said. “It’s been a lot of years of battling in the STAPLES Center versus the Clippers and listening to the fans here. Just excited to be on the right side of it. This is probably one of the most exciting teams in the NBA right now, so like I said, I’m happy to be a part of it, happy to be a part of the fan base here.”
Felton’s played for five different teams in his career, including three seasons with the Knicks, two of which were under the helm of Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson, who was the head coach in New York at the time.
“He’s funny,” Felton said. “He’s going to say what he wants to say, but at the same time, he’s going to go to bat for you. He’s a great guy, a great father figure. I think all these coaches (with the Clippers) are, so just to be here and be around him again and be a part of Clipper Nation is going to be exciting.”
While he’s more familiar with Woodson than the rest of the coaching staff, Felton said he has relationships with head coach Doc Rivers, assistant coach Sam Cassell and executive vice president Lawrence Frank.
On the players’ side, it’ll be a reunion with Jamal Crawford, as the two played together during the 2011-12 season in Portland. While Felton hasn’t played with many of the Clippers, years of competing against them has helped him build friendships on the team – even with college rival J.J. Redick.
Felton arrived at North Carolina in 2002, the same year Redick went to Duke, but Felton’s put that major college rivalry in the rear view.
“It’s going to be funny,” Felton said. “It’ll be just like playing with him in All-Star Games. We played in the same McDonald’s game together…so it’s going to be fun. Me and J.J., we kind of laugh about those things.”
Beyond the level of familiarity Felton has with the Clippers, he also feels their pick-and-roll system fits him perfectly. And knowing how close the team is to realizing its goals, Felton thought the fit made sense for him this summer.
“I just know when I come in, I’m going to be comfortable,” Felton said. “Just understanding and knowing I’m going to be in a comfortable situation, and then on top of that, this is L.A., what can you complain about?”
This will mark the sixth different stop for Felton, who spent the first five seasons of his career in Charlotte before going to New York, Denver, Portland, back to New York and most recently to Dallas, where he spent the last two seasons.
Felton averaged 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last year, playing in 80 regular season matchups before thriving in the playoffs, starting in four of five games and averaging 15 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
The veteran guard said as the years go by, winning becomes more and more important to a player. He wants that taste of the postseason back, he knows he can get it in his move to the Clippers and he wants to play his part in getting there.
“I’m going to bring it every night,” Felton said. “On both ends.”