By Larry Fine
GREENBURGH, New York (Reuters) - New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson said on Wednesday that he stood behind point guard Raymond Felton, who was arrested on Tuesday on gun possession charges, and that Felton would remain in the Knicks' lineup.
"Bottom line is, Ray is part of our team," Woodson told reporters after Wednesday's practice, in which Felton participated.
"As his coach I'm going to support him and make sure he's doing everything the right way from here on out, and try to get him to concentrate on basketball."
Felton, 29, was charged after his wife's divorce attorney took a weapon that was allegedly the player's and was not registered in New York City to a local police station, authorities said.
He is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and with criminal possession of a firearm, authorities said. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to seven years on the third-degree possession charge.
He is scheduled to return to court on June 2, following the end of the NBA's regular season.
Woodson said Felton would travel with the team for Thursday's game in Miami against the defending National Basketball Association champion Heat.
Felton delivered a statement to reporters, making no comment on the case and taking no questions.
"I'm focusing on finishing out this season, finishing out these games with my teammates and going down to Miami and focusing on this next game at task, versus the defending champs," he said.
"We're trying to make it to the playoffs. We're 5 1/2 games out, 25 games left. Really focusing on that with these guys on the team and trying to make that happen."
Felton turned himself in to face the charges early on Tuesday and appeared later for a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court before Judge Diane Boyar, who set bail at $25,000.
A police source said the semi-automatic, large-capacity pistol, loaded with about 18 bullets, was taken to a police station near the couple's home on Manhattan's Upper West Side late Monday by an attorney representing the player's wife, Ariane Raymondo-Felton, 26, who filed for divorce last week.
Felton kept the gun at his home, according to the criminal complaint, and the judge issued a six-month order of protection for "the complainant," presumed to be his estranged wife.
"At the end of the day, he's a part of the New York Knick family and I'm going to support him and try to get him back on track," said coach Woodson.
"You're always surprised when something happens within your family. But I don't know the dynamics of it, I don't know where it will go from today."
The season has been a disappointing one for the Knicks, who won the Atlantic Division last season. They have a 21-36 mark, having lost three games in a row and nine of their last 11.
Felton, along with a number of his team mates, has performed poorly through the sub-par season.
Asked if it has been a tough season for Felton, Woodson said: "It's been tough for all of us. It's been a rollercoaster ride for our ballclub."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)