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Clippers Free Agent Retrospective: Ray Felton, Backup For Hire

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The NBA journeyman solidified the Clippers’ backup point guard position, if only for a year.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Key Clipper Facts:

  • Signed with the Clippers on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum on July 25, 2016.
  • Appeared in 80 games in the regular season, averaging 21.3 minutes, 6.7 points, and 2.4 assists on 43% shooting.
  • Appeared in all seven postseason games against the Utah Jazz, shooting 44.4% on three-pointers and 46.9% overall in 18.1 minutes per game.
  • Signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder on another one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.

Expectation:

Don’t be Paul Pierce.

Reality:

He wasn’t Paul Pierce. He was quite good.

A year after endearing himself to Dallas Mavericks fans in a way that DeAndre Jordan, um, didn’t, Ray Felton played the role of hired gun in LA and played it well. Playing 80 games for the second straight season, but only for the second time since the 2009-10 season, Felton took ownership of and responsibility for the Clippers’ backup point guard position in a way no other player had since Darren Collison way back in 2013-14. (Jordan Farmar, put your hand down.)

Felton’s solid two-way play earned him the eighth-most minutes on Doc Rivers’ squad, and allowed the head coach to move son Austin to shooting guard, a transition successful enough to ripple into this summer’s franchise decision to move on from JJ Redick.

Sure, he had a stretch where he failed to can a three in 17 of 18 games, and of course he looked like he could shed a pound or five, but for a tenth of what Phoenix paid Brandon Knight, Fat Fast Felton gave the Clippers real production and night-in-night-out reliability. Oh, and per reports, he was good for the locker room too. Ray Felton was a genuine luxury at a dollar-store price.

Legacy:

The Clippers won’t ever hang Felton’s #2 from the rafters unless it eventually adorns a better player, but he’ll long be appreciated by the more attentive fans in that passing-through-town-and-doing-a-good-deed kind of way. Unfortunately for Ray, the Clippers acquired two quality point(ish) guards in trading their best one, then signed another, Miloš Teodosić, that some consider to have been the best in the non-NBA world. And with that, Felton is headed east to the midwest, where he’ll likely revive another franchise’s moribund backup point guard position. Good luck, Ray.