During the past four weeks, Raymond Felton’s mental fortitude has been tested greatly while on the Knicks bench. New York’s starting point guard was sidelined following the contest in Los Angeles on Christmas Day when it was discovered he suffered a broken right pinky finger.
At Tuesday’s practice session, Felton described the past month, “This has been the longest I have ever been out for an injury in my career, so it’s been tough mentally but I have been fighting through it and making sure I’m staying in shape.”
Felton was the Knicks second leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony and the squad’s top assist man at the time of the injury. On Tuesday, Felton participated in conditioning drills and began to work on his jumper with the assistant coaches at MSG Training Center.
“I won’t be able to get clearance until I actually get out there full contact and somebody actually smacks me on the hand, so right now it feels great,” Felton explained.
New York enters a crucial set of games this week against Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Felton said there’s a “Big Chance” he could play on Saturday night but the decision is not up to him and the doctors will have to provide the green light.
“If they tell me he is cleared to play then we’ll get him back in there and get him back up to speed because he is a big part of what we miss, 15 points, 6-7 assists a night in that spot. We do miss him,” head coach Mike Woodson stated.
Felton is starting with the basics by using his right hand again after it was heavily wrapped these past four weeks. This means: writing, eating, shooting, and handling the rock again with that strong hand.
“It’s been painful and terrifying. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and helping my teammates,” Felton said.
Despite the positive progress, the 28-year old remains cautious as he told reporters that another hit to that hand could result in surgery and 2-3 months off the floor. He fractured his pinky in three places and three bones were shattered.
Felton’s return in the near future will help balance the lineup, considering the team is near full strength with Iman Shumpert’s presence and Amar’e Stoudemire’s minutes increasing over the past couple of games. Additionally, Woodson can decrease Jason Kidd’s minutes and slide him back to the shooting guard spot to alleviate heavy responsibility on the future Hall of Famer.
The Knicks will have one more day to prepare for the second matchup against the Celtics this season. On Thursday night, New York travels to Boston for the first of two road games this week.