Raymond Felton says his arrest “not a distraction” to Knicks

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If you choose to define “distraction” as something that diverts your attention and keeps you from achieving your goals, then yes, Raymond Felton is correct. His arrest on felony gun charges — allegedly waiving a loaded, unregistered gun around at his estranged wife during an argument — will not be a distraction to the New York Knicks.

Because really, what are the Knicks’ goals for the rest of the season? The playoffs ship has sailed. The Knicks have to go 18-7 the rest of the way to even have a shot (that gets them 39 wins, the pace the Hawks are on).

Felton’s teammates may feel differently about this being a distraction, based on the media hoards reportedly at Knicks practice Wednesday.

Felton read a statement to the media and did not take questions (which was smart). Here is what he said, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

“This is not a distraction to this team,” Felton said…. “You know, I’m focusing on finishing out this season, finishing out these games with my teammates and going down to Miami and focusing on this next game at task, versus the defending champs.

“As far as what’s going on off the court with me, there will be no comment speaking on that. If you got any questions anything doing with that, speak to my lawyer.

“But other than that, I’m here to concentrate on this team, finish this season out with the New York Knicks and see what happens, man, trying to make it to the playoffs. We’re 5 ½ games out, 25 games left, so I’m really focusing on that with these guys, with the team and trying to make that happen.”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he would back his point guard, because what else is he going to say? Felton will travel to Miami with the team and start against the Heat Thursday. The CBA bars teams from punishing a player based only on an arrest, the league and Knicks must wait until the legal system runs its course before acting (and Felton is not due back in court until June 2, after their season ends).

Felton is in the second year of a $10 million, three-year contract with New York.

Felton’s estranged wife (she filed for divorce) and her attorney took the gun to police, who started an investigation. A couple hours after the Knicks latest home loss (to Dallas Monday night) Felton turned himself in to New York Police and spent the night in jail.

He was arraigned on Tuesday on one count of criminal possession of a firearm and one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. With New York’s strict gun laws Felton could see real jail time for this if convicted. Felton posted $25,000 bail and the judge ordered that Felton have no contact with his wife of 19 months.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.