Raymond Felton to Take $5.5 Million Qualifying Offer From Charlotte
While this result is hardly surprising, there remains a herd of elephants in the room. There's D.J. Augustin, the lottery pick successor to Felton entering his second season. There's Larry Brown, the notoriously trigger-happy boss of the team. And there's Felton himself, who has proved if nothing else over his four seasons that he is just not very good.
Any way you slice it, Felton has been a disappointment. You don't take point guards with the fifth pick in the draft with hopes they will someday become reliably inefficient 14-point scorers who drop seven dimes and three turnovers a night while playing spirited but seriously flawed defense. Just because Felton is reliable does not mean Felton is good. And while there are worse starting point guards in the NBA (Beno Udrih, Luke Ridnour and Chris Duhon spring to mind), that doesn't excuse Felton's failure to improve. (Not that it's necessarily Felton's fault, of course. But no franchise could justify paying out a fat contract to a player who isn't good and isn't improving, and I doubt that will change next summer.)
Given the inside-out tendencies of incumbent stars Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw and newcomer Tyson Chandler, the Bobcats need reliable deep threats on the perimeter. Augustin hit 44% of his threes last season. Felton hit 28.5%. And Augustin (though smaller) gives the team almost everything else Felton can: scoring, decent playmaking. Augustin did get 12 starts under Brown last season, but that was in a tandem role alongside Felton. (Felton played all 82 games, and started 81 of them.)
Perhaps that will work again for Brown, who got the franchise closer to the playoffs than its ever been. Or, just as likely, Brown could plant Augustin in Felton's eternal starting position. That'd mean doom to Felton's already gloomy long-term NBA prospects, but it might be what is best for Charlotte.