Like it has for many players, a stint with the Dallas Mavericks helped rejuvenate Raymond Felton's NBA career. Now he'll try to carry that improvement over to Los Angeles, as the Clippers confirmed they signed the point guard Monday.
Felton and the Clippers agreed in principle on a contract July 14, per Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com and Dan Woike of the SoCal News Group. The deal will start at Felton's veteran's minimum of $1.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner.
The 32-year-old guard will likely serve as the primary backup to Chris Paul. He spent the last two seasons in Dallas, navigating an injury-plagued 2014-15 before returning to form in 2015-16.
He averaged 9.5 points, 3.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds while playing 80 of 82 games last season. During the Mavericks' first-round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Felton was almost inarguably their second-best player. He averaged 15.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds over the five-game defeat.
While acknowledging he should have an increased value on the open market, Felton stated his desire for a return in Dallas, per Earl K. Sneed of the Mavs' official website:
I'm pretty sure I put myself in a good situation. I will say that. But hopefully that situation is back here again next year, and we can make that happen. I love Dallas, I love this city, and I'm actually going to buy a house here and move here regardless of the situation. You know, it would be great to move into that new house and sign back here, so we'll see what happens.
The Mavs apparently saw it differently—or at least began to as the offseason progressed. They added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut and retained Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams and Dwight Powell—leaving Felton to hang on the open market.
A below-average starter for most of his first decade in the NBA, Felton's seemed to settle into a role that's more fitting of his skill set. He's an above-average NBA backup who can pick up the pace a bit and is a better three-point shooter than he showed last season.
If Felton can get his three-point percentage to around 35 percent (it was 28.2 percent in 2015-16), he instantly becomes a valuable bench cog. No team's going to give him a long-term deal at this point—especially not with his history of coming into camp in less than optimal shape—but he's a fine short-term stopgap.
Felton said in November, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com:
Those who forgot about me or those who forgot about the nine years of work I put in this league before last year, just letting them know that I’m still here. I still got it. I just had a bad injury. I had a lot of disappointing situations that happened off the court in New York before I got to Dallas. Nothing I can do about that. That’s behind me, that’s in the past.
The Clippers will hope all the problems of Felton's past stay behind him next season. Their bench has been a cause of nearly constant frustration since Doc Rivers took over basketball operations in 2013, with the head coach running through a ceaseless string of bad moves. Rivers compounded the issues this summer by lavishing nearly $100 million on Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Austin Rivers and Luc Mbah a Moute.
Those were borderline necessary moves given the Clippers' cap situation, but Felton and Mbah a Moute stand out as the only sound signings in a vacuum.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.