Toney Douglas, a combo-guard that was recently acquired by the Heat in mid-January, is slowly working his way into the Heat rotation. Douglas, who played some of his best years for the New York Knicks, has started for the injury-ridden Dwyane Wade twelve times this year, providing some depth and defense the Heat have been looking for in their guards.
Douglas, a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school, played one year for Auburn where he averaged 16.9 points per game, but then transferred to Florida St. due to unhappiness with then-coach, Jeff Lebo.
Douglas played three seasons for the Seminoles, where he saw tremendous success his senior year, producing averages of 21.5 points, 2.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. Douglas earned multiple accolades his senior season, including ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-America Third Team honors as well.
Douglas entered his name into the 2009 NBA Draft, where he was drafted 29th overall in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers, later traded to the New York Knicks for a second round pick and cash considerations.
In his rookie season, Douglas played a key reserve role for the Knicks, averaging 8.6 points and two assists per game in only 56 games. The next season, Douglas increased his production, averaging 10.6 points, three assists, and three rebounds per game in 81 games. It looked as if Douglas was going to have another promising season heading into 2011, but Douglas saw a decrease in minutes and production sitting behind guards Iman Shumpert, Baron Davis, and Jeremy Lin. Douglas would later be acquired by the Houston Rockets via a sign and trade deal that sent Marcus Camby to New York.
After stints with the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors, Douglas was traded to the Miami Heat in mid-January of 2014. The trade was based around the Heat trying to get under the tax line, in-part by dumping the egregious salary of Joel Anthony, which will save the Heat more than $10 million in salary and luxury tax.
Douglas’s arrival to South Beach wasn’t hyped, not that it should have been. He was signed by Golden State to be the primary back-up point guard after the departure of Jarrett Jack. He didn’t produce offensively and had trouble finding an adequate role on a team that is based around an offense-first approach. Douglas was overlooked by Heat fans and many predicted he was going to be a bench-warmer that, in essence, would be brought in when LeBron and Co. blew out opponents.
However, Douglas has played in an integral role on this team, bringing back defensive intensity this Heat team has been long awaiting.
“We love T.D. and to be able to get him how we got him was a luxury to our team,” LeBron James told Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. “He’s still learning the system, but his energy and his motor make up for a lot of mistakes that you may not even recognize because he plays so hard defensively and offensively he gets into the paint a lot and makes things happen for teammates and himself. So, that’s huge for us.”
So the question remains, should the Heat resign Douglas who’s on an expiring deal? Let’s break it down.
The Heat’s starting point guard, Mario Chalmers, is on an expiring deal and his market price per year could come anywhere from four million to five million dollars per year. There are a handful of teams that would pay for Chalmers’ services because of his playoff experience and three point shooting, so bringing him back won’t be easy.
Norris Cole, who’s on contract until the end of the 2014-15 season, is expected to be the Heat’s starting point guard if Chalmers decides to sign elsewhere. With Wade’s health raising concerns among the front office, it would be smart of Pat Riley to bring back a guy that is familiar with the system and the players.
Enter Toney Douglas.
If Chalmers leaves, valuable experience and perimeter shooting would be gone. The Heat could counter by resigning Douglas to a one or two year deal, along the lines of one to two million dollars per year. Douglas is a prototypical three and defense type of player, who could also teach Norris Cole the ropes if he shall chose.
I believe the Heat will resign Douglas because of his defensive assets and good decision-making ability. Douglas doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands to contribute, and any contender would love to have any player that plays like Douglas.
When LeBron James raves about having you on the team, you know you are doing something right.
Douglas may not get much playing time in the playoffs, but when his name is called, he won’t shy away from being a physical, defensive-nuisance.