Toney Douglas Q + A
Buzz Words: Free Agency, Walt Frazier, Harry Douglas.
by Matt Lawyue / @mlawyue
Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry (yikes) and Toney Douglas. These are the only Knicks officially signed for next season. I’m so numb to the free agency talk at this point, I won’t even bother explaining the Knicks situation because it’s been beaten to death already. All I’ll intro for this Q + A, is that TD had a solid rookie season. He occasionally flashed instances of running the point and locking down the opposition on defense. There’s much this rising sophomore needs to work on, but from the look of things, he’s on the right track.
SLAM: Your minutes seemed to fluctuate your rookie season. November you had a good start, got some playing time, and then you kind of stuck to the bench a little bit until March/April when Coach D’Antoni brought you back in. Were you expecting this as a rookie and was this difficult coming from Florida State where you were playing heavy minutes?
Toney Douglas: It wasn’t difficult. I knew coming in that, just because I was a star at Florida State or I was initially considered focused, like it’s possible I’m not gonna be playing in the NBA like I do in college. I’m a have my time, and when my time comes, I have to take advantage of it and produce and play to get more minutes down the floor. I knew coming in right away, I felt like, I was coming out of college I was a senior and I was real mature about the situation and I would be able to handle it more than like, probably younger kids that come out freshman, sophomore year out of college. I was able to come out to keep the same attitude, stay working hard, stay in the gym early, stay in late.
SLAM: You kind of touched on it already, but are those some of the things you learned from the veterans your first season and what were the biggest differences playing college ball as opposed to playing in the League?
TD: College ball is real fast paced and a lot of teams help defense. In the NBA it’s more spread out and it’s a lot of slow to quick. It’s probably slow motion but it’s real fast at times. And everybody can play on the court. One mistake on defense and it’s gonna cost you. The atmosphere is way different of course. It’s different. You’re playing against players that everybody was good on their college team before too, and you just have to adjust to it and become hungry and come out as the best basketball player ever and that’s staying in the gym and doing what you have to do to help the team win.
SLAM: With that said, you’re only one of four players under contract for this upcoming season and obviously this is a big free agent season, it’s what’s everybody is talking about. What are your thoughts on free agency? I mean, if the Knicks are looking to bring in a point guard or not, are you expecting yourself to be the starting point guard come October?
TD: I don’t really tell myself ‘I’m going to be the starting point guard.’ I don’t say that. I’ve been in New York doing two-a-day’s from April and May and I just stay working on my game, on the offensive and defensive end. I can only control what I can control and that’s me becoming a better basketball player, staying working out. That’s the coach’s decision. All I could do is show them what I have been doing to get better and how I could help this team win. And that’s their decision. I could just control myself through my play and my work ethic.
SLAM: Are you excited for a LeBron and Wade to come in?
TD: I’m real excited. I hear lot about it, but whoever we get they’re going to help the New York Knicks. We have a championship mindset and we’re gonna win games and the whole team gonna be on one page and we’re gonna raise the Knicks organization back where it’s supposed to be.
SLAM: That sounds good. I think a lot of New Yorkers are hoping that happens soon. Speaking of a former Knick, Walt Clyde Frazier was quoted in the paper as saying, comparing himself to you, “we’re similar players, he likes the pressure,” and, “you want the ball on the line.” When you hear that coming from a Hall of Famer, two-time champion Walt Frazier, how does that make you feel?
TD: It feels great. He was a really great player when he was in New York. We have a lot of similarities to the game, since he was a defensive person too. He always gives me a lot of tips and I’ll always take advantage of whatever he gives me. I’m looking forward to talking to him more, you know, just being a student of the game and learning from his knowledge of the game to make me become a better basketball player.
SLAM: You actually just hit my next question. You’re talking about how you guys are both defensive minded point guards, but at Florida State every year your scoring went up. You went from 12.7 to 15.4 to 21.5. You shot the ball well your senior year, but in the Draft you were billed as a defense first point guard. Yet, with the Knicks your first season you shot the ball well from all facets of the game: 46 percent from the field, almost 39 percent from downtown and 81 percent from the free throw line. In a Mike D’Antoni offense, are you looking to incorporate and expand this part of your game more?
TD: Most definitely, I really am. His system he gives us the freedom. One thing about me, I’m never going to lose my confidence if I miss a shot because I be in the gym so much and I know I can hit shots. I don’t need one jump shot to get me going. Sometimes I think my offense comes from my defense. Gettin a stop, a steal or a layup, something like that to get my game going in a flow.
SLAM: You were drafted 29th by the Lakers. Watching them play in the Finals, do you ever think ‘what if?’ you weren’t traded to the Knicks? That could be you playing in the Finals, your rookie season.
TD: No not really, because I feel everything happens for a reason. I feel like I’m in a great place in New York. The biggest thing in the NBA is to play hard. I’m in a great situation in a Mike D’Antoni system. Even though the Lakers are in the championship, I feel like I’m where I need to be at. The Knicks, they wanted me. They paid to get me so, anytime a team wants you then that’s a good thing.
SLAM: What Nate Robinson went through this season, a prolonged benching whether it was warranted or not, because you know him personally, what’s it like watching him in the Finals being such a big contributor?
TD: I’m happy for him. I’m happy for any player that I played with. He got his chance to be in the NBA Finals and I know he’s gonna seize the moment and he’s gonna play hard and win a championship. I wish nothing but the best for Nate.
SLAM: I spoke to Allan Houston recently, about the draws of New York for free agents. He was saying you have all the cultures here, you can live in the city or the suburbs. You have everything here. Coming from Florida to New York, how have you adjusted to the lifestyle here?
TD: It’s been real well. New York’s just real fast paced. I’m from Atlanta, so I’m used to a big city, but not like New York. It’s real fast paced and just different. I am still getting adjusted to it, so I feel like I’m kind of fitting in and getting comfortable. When I come back to the south, I’m like, ‘wow, I’m so used to New York traffic.’ It’s just easy driving. It’s a great place to be, to play at. Great night life and a great organization that I’m with.
SLAM: It’s well documented that Clyde Frazier was a big partier. Are you similar to him like that, during the season you’ll go out and take advantage of the night life?
TD: I don’t go out like that during the season, I’m focused. Sometimes I’ll go out, but I don’t get crazy with it. Sometimes I just like to chill at the house, watch DVD’s and stuff like that. I don’t really be out on the scene like that.
SLAM: I’ll get you out of here on one last question about your brother, HD. We know he was out last season with the torn ACL. How’s he looking right now? Do you think he’ll be ready for the Falcons?
TD: He’s like 90 percent right now, so he’s back on the field getting ready. Looking forward to him having a big year this year.