After much trepidation, Dallas Mavericks point guard Raymond Felton finally started his four-game suspension Monday.
“It’s a little bittersweet thing,” Felton said. “It feels good to start [the suspension], but then it’s also one of those things where I only play here once [a season].”
The NBA suspended Felton for four games without pay after he pleaded guilty to a gun charge related to an incident in New York in February. The suspension would have started at the beginning of the season, but Felton hasn’t been healthy — until Monday — since he sustained a high right ankle sprain during an Oct. 10 preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Felton grew up about two hours from Time Warner Cable Arena in Latta, S.C., and also led North Carolina to the 2005 NCAA title.
Felton also will miss the next three games against Washington, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston. He’ll be eligible to play his first game for the Mavs on Nov. 24 against Indiana.
For now, Felton just wants the entire nightmarish gun incident to disappear.
“Just go ahead and get that whole situation that happened last year totally behind me,” he said. “Right here, this is the last step.”
Felton was acquired by the Mavs in a June 25 trade with the Knicks, which also brought center Tyson Chandler back to Dallas. Now he’ll have to compete with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea for playing time at point guard.
“He’s been in the league for a while, and he’s a great player, an established player, and he brings toughness as well,” Nelson said. “I’m not sure how he’ll be used.
“But he’s always a guy I’ve respected and who plays really hard all the time and has done a great job running teams.”
Owner Mark Cuban sees the addition of Felton as a luxury that will pay dividends.
“I’m excited to get Raymond back because that will push our point guards a little bit more,” Cuban said. “If we have four point guards play 12 minutes each — if that what it takes. ... But I think what I really like about it is it allows us to press.”
Felton has to serve 500 hours of community service as part of his plea deal. That also was placed on hold with the ankle sprain.
“I still got a lot [remaining],” Felton said. “Since I’ve been hurt I haven’t really been able to do much because I don’t want to be doing things with my ankle like this.”
Fort Worth Jam?
Whenever the new $450 million Will Rogers Arena is completed, Cuban said he will try and bring his team to the new facility.
“I can see us doing us doing a Blue-White scrimmage out there just like what we do in Dallas for free for Mavs fan to go to, and do that in Fort Worth,’”Cuban said. “Have a Fan Jam in Dallas and a Fan Jam in Fort Worth.”
• Mark Cuban on Brandan Wright’s NBA-leading 77.4 percent field-goal shooting: “Brandan Wright has just been a beast. He’s the most efficient player in basketball by far.”
• The NBA changed the starting time of the Mavs’ Dec. 10 home game against New Orleans from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.