The Trail Blazers seemingly never-ending search for a long-term answer at point guard has finally come to an end. In a flurry of draft-day activity, the Blazers traded Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez, landed Raymond Felton from the Denver Nuggets and drafted All-American Nolan Smith of Duke, stockpiling point guards for years to come. "We addressed a need now and for the future," coach Nate McMillan said. "I like what we did today." But, in what has become a common practice for the Blazers during the NBA draft, it was anything but a simple transaction. It took three teams and a dizzying combination of draft picks, current players and rights to foreign prospects for the Blazers to land the young, established point guard theyve been seeking. The Blazers traded Rudy Fernandez and the draft rights to Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the No. 26 and 57 selections. Then they packaged the rights to No. 26 Texas Jordan Hamilton with Miller and sent them to Denver for Felton. Portland, which entered the draft with just the 21st and 51st pick, drafted Smith at No. 21 pick and used their second-round picks on Ohio State guard Jon Diebler (No. 51) and Targuy Ngombo of Qatar (No. 57). They are expected to trade Ngombo. But the crown jewel of the night was Felton. And, it turns out, he has been a target of the organization for some time. After playing five seasons for the Charlotte Bobcats, who drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick in 2005, Felton signed a two-year free agent contract with the New York Knicks last summer. Along the way, he flirted with the Blazers. "We were close to signing with them," Felton's agent, Tony Dutt, said. "They were our second choice." Instead, he ended up signing with New York and averaged 17.1 points, 9.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds while playing 38.4 minutes a game. But after 54 games, Felton was traded to the Nuggets in the blockbuster multiplayer deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. He assumed a backup role in Denver, but still averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 assists. When his sixth NBA season was all said and done, even with the trade and change in roles, Felton finished with his best season, averaging a career-high 15.5 points and a career-high 8.3 assists per game. He ranked sixth in the NBA in assists and eighth in steals (1.7 per game). "He brings toughness, brings passion, brings some grit to us," interim general manager Chad Buchanan said. "We feel like he's gotten better and better with each year and I think he's going to continue to show improvement for us."
Changing of the guards for Trail Blazers: Raymond Felton in, Andre Miller out
Oregonian | Jun 24