In case you missed it, the Clippers signed Raymond Felton last week, to a one-year minimum-salary contract. Felton replaces Pablo Prigioni as the Clippers' third point guard behind Austin Rivers, but is also a talent upgrade for guard depth, which made the Clippers comfortable with moving C.J. Wilcox. Even though we're NBA nerds here at Clips Nation, we're also all Clippers fans--that means we're watching 82 Clippers games a year, and probably only a handful of Dallas games. Rather than speculate on Felton's impact, we decided to go straight to the source of Dallas Mavericks expertise: Mavs Moneyball managing editor Tim Cato.
Lucas Hann: A lot of people are saying that Felton was one of the Mavs' best players last season. Why didn't they make a bigger effort to re-sign him?
Tim Cato: Raymond Felton was great last year, but he's an older guard on a team that already has older guards -- Deron Williams, who was re-signed this summer, as well as J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, both who were already under contract. I was told that the team really did love Felton, and there was even rumors that they would bring him back over Williams in the week leading up to free agency. But the team desperately wanted to get younger on the bench, so once Williams was re-signed, it was a signal that Felton was almost certainly gone. Adding Seth Curry sealed it.
LH: Felton's struggled with conditioning problems and being overweight during his career. Was that something that was a concern during his time with the Mavericks? If he doesn't have a consistent role with the Clippers, will that become an issue?
TC: Felton was as professional as anyone could be during his tenure in Dallas. He played sparsely in his first season, and still had a couple important games late in the year despite mostly riding the bench. No one knew what to expect from him last year, but certainly he must have exceeded even the highest expectations for him. I'd be shocked if that showed up as a problem for him in the future on the Clippers. He was often the hardest working player on the floor.
LH: What's Felton's best asset offensively? He seems to be relatively inefficient as a shooter, and his assist numbers are fairly low.
TC: There was definitely a timeliness to Felton's shotmaking last season, which made his less efficient shooting seem alright. A decent chunk of late clock, bailout offense was also run through him, so that doesn't help either. Felton's at his best when he turns the corner on a pick-and-roll. He has a solid pull-up jumper, can use his frame to absorb contact and finish at the rim, or kick the ball to an open shooter. I wouldn't describe him as elite in any specific area, but he's just an all-around solid player with the ball in his hands.
Off the ball, it gets trickier, of course. His shooting numbers definitely trailed off towards the end of the season, which could easily correlate directly with the sheer number of minutes he was playing. He shot 33 percent before the All-Star break but just 17 percent after it. He was 1-of-22 at one point behind the arc in March. If he's playing less than 27 minutes per game (and about 35 minutes per game early in the season), he should be able to sustain his legs longer as a 32-year-old. At no point will he be a great off ball shooter, though.
LH: How is Raymond defensively? He'll likely end up in a lot of 3-guard line-ups with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, which cause the Clippers some issues last year when Pablo Prigioni was in Felton's role.
TC: He'll be better than Prigs, I promise you that. He's nothing extraordinary, but Felton has enough height and physicality that he's not a complete turnstile. I know that's not exactly the most glowing review, but he's certainly good enough on that end so that he's not a complete liability every time he steps on the floor.
LH: In general, would you say that Dallas fans are happy Felton's gone, indifferent, or sad to see him go?
TC: Somewhere between indifferent and sad. Felton gave the Mavericks some great moments (especially this), and I'm sure there's a good portion of the fanbase who would prefer him back over Barea or Harris. But those two were signed and Felton was not, so on he goes. Sometimes, that's just how basketball works out. Treat Ray Ray well, friends!
Thanks to Tim for taking the time to give us some insight on the Clippers' new point guard!
You can reach him on twitter @tim_cato.