“I am a competitor. I am a point guard just like he is, so do I think I am better? Of course, I am going to say that,”
Felton had just signed a three-year/$9 million contract with the Knicks. He believes that he's an upgrade over Jeremy Lin and can run the floor better. These comments were expected. He's been a starter and is a NBA veteran, and truthfully, I would've been shocked if this was not Felton's thought process. I don't fault him for saying this. Felton went on to explain that there's nothing personal between him and Jeremy.
Felton's previous stint with the Knicks saw him setting career highs with 17.1 points and nine assists per game under Mike D'Antoni. After being traded to Denver then Portland, he showed up overweight and had a dismal season. However, he's since lost weight and looks to be in good form.
Compare Felton's comments to Houston Rockets Summer Training Camp invitee Scott Machado, who opened his thoughts about Lin in a New York Daily News interview.
“I wasn’t on his bandwagon. I was a Knicks fan and we were winning with him, so I was just happy.”
As a college player Machado looked NBA bound, leading the NCAA in assists and making Iona College the highest scoring team in the NCAA. Machado, like Lin, went undrafted, but was invited to several training camps and was participating in the summer league.
"He’s more of a scorer, and I’m more of a real point guard. It would be fun for a while (backing Lin up), but I wouldn’t like it. I’d want to play. It’s a business and they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”
It's expected of a NBA veteran like Felton to have this kind of swagger, but from a still unproven player it borders on rookie arrogance. With a small sample of five games, he's fourth in the summer league with 5.6 assists but has only averaged eight points per game. The rest of Machado's interview is more relaxed and positive; he states that he simply wants the same chance that Jeremy was given.
At best, Machado was speaking too frankly. More than likely Machado was baited during the interview and led to make those comments, a common rookie mistake, especially when being interviewed by the New York media.
Unfortunately, these comments are not something that will bring a positive energy to the Rockets. However, he's a very good talent and one player I was surprised to go undrafted. I suspect he'll have a chance to prove himself in the NBA, but he'll have to be more aware of the media in the future.
Houston has several other young stars in the summer league. Jeremy Lamb is expected to have good minutes as a backup SG with the Rockets. In the summer league, he averaged twenty points per game, and during an interview with the Hartford Courant, Lamb's pro-am coach had this to say:
"I think Lamb will grow to have a good, trusting on-court relationship with Lin. There is great potential for Jeremy (Lamb) to benefit from the court vision that Lin excels at. Since Jeremy can find his spots on the floor beautifully as evidenced in the NBA Summer League and what I saw (at the Pro-Am), a skilled player like Lin can get him the ball in shooting position and within the flow of the game."
Jeremy Lamb himself continued with the positive comments, "The first thing I thought, Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb. Just a coincidence. He's a great player. He can set himself up and set everyone else up. …It's going to be fun playing with him."
It may be unfair to compare Lamb to Machado, as Lamb's role is a complementary one to Lin, while Machado's role is almost competitive. Machado may want to be a starter in the NBA, and he may very well achieve that one day. However, he's still currently without a contract and may not get that role in Houston any time soon, not when Houston has invested so much in Lin.