DALLAS, TX — Raymond Felton arrived in Dallas during the summer of 2014 with his reputation at an all-time low.
The New York Knicks, while distancing from him after felony gun charges, threw Felton into the Tyson Chandler deal with the Dallas Mavericks to get him out of the Big Apple and get his contract off their books.
Felton suffered a high ankle sprain during preseason last year, which led to him failing to get into suitable game shape and never cracking the Mavericks’ rotation. When the season finally ended, Felton had played in a career-low 32 games, including the playoffs, while starting in a career-low four games.
However, Felton has turned things around after exercising his player option with the Mavericks for the 2015–16 season this past summer, as he’s in the middle of a resurgence through the first quarter of the year.
“It’s all about being in shape and being healthy,” Felton told Today’s Fastbreak. “Last year, I went through a bad injury. I was out three or four months so it was tough coming back. It was probably one of the worst injuries that I have ever had in my career. Now, I’m just trying to bounce back from that, but the biggest thing was to make sure I was 100 percent healthy and that my foot was back normal before I came into the season.”
By proving himself to be a true professional and by fighting hard to get in shape this offseason, Felton gained the trust of his teammates, who are excited to see his game round back into form:
“I know it’s tough to go through a situation like he did last year, but he didn’t pout,” guard Devin Harris told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon last month. “He went to work and came back ready to play this year. It’s good to see him enjoying the game again.”
Felton’s resurgent play has even gotten Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle on his side. The veteran coach who didn’t play Felton much last season now trusts him so much that he’s often in the closing lineup for a Dallas team that sports a better-than-expected (14-11) record.
Just this past weekend against the Washington Wizards, Felton showed just how far he’s come back from the ankle injury. The point guard put up 10 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to record the first triple-double by a Maverick since Jason Kidd did it in 2011.
On the season, Felton has started 13 of the Mavericks’ 25 games and is averaging 11.6 points and 4.5 assists in 33 minutes per game as a starter, while also regaining his reputation as a solid point guard in the league.
“Your teammates are backing you and they are on your side and they believe in you, and your coaching staff and organization believes in you. You keep your confidence,” Felton said. “I’m always a confident person, but it always helps to have everybody like that on your side and to have your back.”