Starting point guard Raymond Felton believes being the oldest team in NBA history last season was an interesting distinction, but ultimately cost the Knicks a chance at a title.
Felton said the Knicks have a greater chance of success in 2013-14 because they have become younger.
Felton pointed to the elderly bench of Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd, who fell apart in the playoffs, as part of the team’s ultimate undoing, getting KO’d in the second round by the Pacers.
With training camp opening Monday, none of those players are back.
Three of them have retired.
“We’re a younger team this year,’’ Felton said at an Under Armour appearance at Macy’s in Herald Square. “Kurt Thomas, Rasheed, love them like brothers.
[But] those guys were 38, 39, 40 years old. Once they got injuries, they’re out and it hurt us last year.
We’ve added Metta [World Peace], [Andrea] Bargnani, Kenyon [Martin] and Amar’e [Stoudemire] are coming back. Tim Hardaway [Jr.] looks great by the way.
I’ve been most impressed with him. It gives us depth at that big spot and youth. Those guys are younger.
“No knock to the guys we had last year. Those guys had incredible careers.
I wish I could play that long. But we are young. That’s what I’m saying.
We’re a younger team this year. We still got depth from last year, but we also have a younger bench. That’s going to help us later in the season.”
Felton isn’t younger this year, but he certainly is lighter.
He said he has lost between 10 and 15 pounds this summer.
Since his ill-fated season in Portland two years ago, he has dropped more than 20 pounds, he said.
“I feel I’m back to my old self when I was here the first time,’’ Felton said.
“The way I’m moving on the court, giving me extra confidence in myself.’’
Virtually all of the Knicks are in Westchester working out informally.
Felton finally got a chance to play with Bargnani on Monday.
Bargnani got to town a little weakened. The former Toronto big man had to withdraw from the European Championships during Italy’s training camp in August due to pneumonia.
“He was really sick,’’ Felton said.
“He had pneumonia, was out about a month. He’s a little winded right now. The guy was in bed and wasn’t allowed to work out for a month. He looks great.
Everything I was hoping he’s going to do, he did it the first day we played pickup. I’m excited as a point guard. He’ll be a big help to our team.’’
Bargnani was reviled in Toronto just as Felton was in Portland.
Felton is still bitter at the character assassination he received in the Rose City.
Last March during a game there, he was booed viciously every time he touched the ball after being portrayed as the guy who cost Portland the playoffs.
He went on a long rant Monday about being portrayed as a locker-room cancer by the media and fans.
“I laughed at the crowd,’’ Felton said. “We’re in the playoffs. What about you all.’’
Felton, who now has his eyes on the Knicks’ captaincy, wants to become one of their prime leaders this season.
“I’ve always been a leader — high school, college,’’ Felton said. “My thing was last year being away for two years to get used to the guys on the team.
I got back in touch with the guys and didn’t try to force myself in that role right away. This year I definitely will with one year under my belt.
I’ll have a leadership role no matter what. We’ll see.’’
Whether he starts again in the all-point-guard backcourt of Pablo Prigioni remains to be seen. The Knicks prospered in that alignment that began in mid-March.
Felton said the coaching staff just finished a retreat to discuss all the scenarios.
“I’m pretty certain we’ll go with that lineup at some point,’’ Felton said.
“We were so successful with it last year. I don’t know about starting but we’ll definitely play with each other.’