Knicks

Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

Raymond Felton close to returning to Knicks

Raymond Felton shoots a foul shot during a

Raymond Felton shoots a foul shot during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 23, 2012) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Raymond Felton was shooting around while the rest of the Knicks were practicing. The significance in this exercise was Felton wasn’t wearing a brace, just some tape on his right pinky and fourth finger.

Felton was cleared to do normal basketball activities – shoot, dribble, pass and catch passes – without a brace. The next step for him is to be cleared for contact. It could happen later this week in time for Friday’s practice.

“We’ve got to see what these next few days hold,” Mike Woodson said. “I’m sure we’ll make a decision then.”

If Felton is cleared Friday and makes it through fine without aggravating his right pinky, which he fractured on Christmas Day, it’s possible Felton could play Saturday against the 76ers. He said there’s a “big chance” he plays Friday in Philly. Felton already has been ruled out for Thursday in Boston and isn’t fighting it.

“They’re not going to let me do it because there’s a possible chance if I break it again I’ll be out two months because they’re going to have to go in and have surgery,” he said. “If I mess it up again I’m going to be out 2-3 months so I’ll do whatever I need to do.”

The Knicks have missed Felton.

They’re 5-6 without him and have had trouble getting into their offense. They’ve run more isolations for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith and less pick-and-roll action and overall ball movement.

Then when Pablo Prigioni hurt his left foot against the Nets – the Knicks called it a bruised great toe – Anthony had to perform some of the point guard duties. Anthony definitely misses Felton.

“I don’t want to make it seem like Raymond is the cause of us losing the games we’ve been losing,” Anthony said. “We miss him. Of course we miss him. When he was playing we were playing great. He was controlling the ball. I think by him being out it put other guys in positions that they’re not comfortable out there on the basketball court.”

Woodson was asked about how much the Knicks have missed Felton.

“We’ve missed him a lot,” Woodson said. “He’s a big part of the puzzle. We didn’t bring [Jason] Kidd in to play 30-plus minutes a game. I know Jason is giving us all he can give us and I’m wearing him down. I’ve got to get Raymond back eventually.”

Tags: Knicks , Carmelo Anthony , Raymond Felton , Mike Woodson , J.R. Smith , Pablo Prigioni

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