Hours after his team's Monday loss to the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton was arrested on felony gun charges.
Felton, 29, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second, third and fourth-degrees. Police said Felton turned himself in at about 12:50 a.m. ET Tuesday at the 20th precinct on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where he was questioned and subsequently charged, according to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal. Felton will reportedly be arraigned in Manhattan criminal court later Tuesday.
Overnight reports of what precipitated the arrest varied. Rocco Parascandola and Andy Clayton of the New York Daily News reported that the arrest came "after [Felton's] estranged wife went to cops with his gun," reportedly a Belgian pistol. (The Post's Page Six gossip column reported last week that Felton's wife, 26-year-old Ariane Raymondo-Felton — yes, Raymond Felton's wife's last name is Raymondo-Felton — had filed for divorce after less than 19 months of marriage.) Larry Celona of The New York Post reported that Felton was arrested "after allegedly pointing a gun at a woman" and that "the woman involved was his girlfriend." New York police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Antonetti told The Associated Press that the charges stem not from Felton "using the firearm in a menacing manner but from possessing a gun he wasn't registered to have."
An update from Herring and Pervaiz Shallwani of the Journal offers more details:
According to a law-enforcement official, the arrest stems from a semiautomatic handgun that allegedly belongs to Mr. Felton and was left at the apartment of his estranged wife, Ariane Felton.
Ms. Felton and the attorney representing her in divorce proceedings took the gun, which had 17 bullets in the magazine and one in the chamber, to the 20th precinct station house in Manhattan Monday evening because she no longer wanted it in the home, the official said.
Ms. Felton, 26, said that on four occasions, most recently Feb. 14, Mr. Felton waved the weapon around in an aggressive way but didn't point it at her, according to the official.
The official said the weapon and ammunition aren't legal in New York City.
The second- and third-degree charges of criminal possession of a firearm are felony counts, while the fourth-degree charge is a misdemeanor. According to USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt, second-degree possession alleges that the person charged "knowingly possesses a loaded firearm," while the third-degree felony alleges that the person "knowingly possesses a firearm which has been defaced for the purpose of concealment or prevention of the detection of a crime or misrepresenting the identity of such firearm."
If Felton were to be convicted of all three charges, the maximum sentence he could receive would be 23 years in prison — 15 years for the second-degree charge, seven for the third-degree charge and one for the fourth-degree charge. We're a long way from that, of course — Felton's presumed innocent until proven guilty, there's plenty of ways court cases can evolve, and plea bargains remain a possibility (if not likelihood) — but that's the maximum penalty.
After returning to New York via a sign-and-trade with the Portland Trail Blazers in the summer of 2012, Felton was a key part of a Knicks team that won 54 games, topping the Atlantic Division for the first time since the 1993-94 season and winning a playoff series for the first time since 2000. With Felton at the controls of a Knicks' offense humming to the tune of the NBA's third-best offensive efficiency in 2012-13, the Knicks seemed validated in their decision to bring back Felton — who had played well for the pre-Carmelo Anthony iteration of the Knicks during the first half of Amar'e Stoudemire's first season in Manhattan before being included in the package shipped to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Anthony at the 2011 trade deadline — and offer him a three-year, $10 million contract rather than match the three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet the Houston Rockets gave to Jeremy Lin. Felton's play has declined precipitously this year, though.
The UNC product, chosen fifth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2005 NBA draft, is shooting just over 40 percent from the floor, just under 30 percent from 3-point range and a career-worst 70.6 percent from the free-throw line this season. He's posting career lows in per-minute scoring, Player Efficiency Rating and True Shooting percentage, which accounts for a player's accuracy on field goals, 3-point field goals and free throws, while operating largely as a defensive turnstile on the perimeter for a Knicks team that has woefully underperformed playoff expectations, entering Tuesday having lost six of its last seven and nine of 11 to fall to 21-36 on the season.
Whether Felton's struggles have stemmed from fitness issues, a hamstring injury that cost him the better part of a month or the now-glaring personal life issues remains unclear, but Felton recently expressed displeasure that his private matters have found their way into the news. From Frank Isola of the Daily News:
“It’s your life,” Felton said. “When you’re going through certain things in life it’s on your mind, no matter what. You try not to let it come into your job, into your workplace, but sometimes it does. You’re human and it’s a part of life. But at the same time, it is what it is. That’s my personal life, though; I don’t want to discuss that part.”
Felton's poor play led the Knicks to explore deals that could shed his contract and improve the team at last Thursday's trade deadline, but none of the rumored trades — most notably a swap that would have sent Felton and Iman Shumpert to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package including backup point guard Darren Collison — came to fruition. In the end, not only did the Knicks not move Felton, but they also agreed to a buyout with third-string point guard Beno Udrih, leaving Felton, backup point guard/fellow starter Pablo Prigioni and sparingly used rookie Toure' Murry as the only point guards on the roster. Felton has averaged more than 38 minutes per game since the trade deadline.
New York now trails the Atlanta Hawks by six games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and will finish Monday night closer to the absolute bottom of the conference (they lead the Milwaukee Bucks by 9 1/2 games) than they are to the top of their division (they're 10 1/2 games behind the Atlantic-leading Toronto Raptors). The Knicks' next game comes Thursday night against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
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