As the 16th player added to the Indiana Pacers’ roster, reserve point guard Toney Douglas is aware of what that could eventually mean.
Just 15 make the final roster, and 15 have fully guaranteed contracts whereas Douglas received $600,000 guaranteed as part of a one-year, veteran-minimum salary of $1,185,784.
Two weeks before NBA rosters are trimmed for the regular season, Douglas scored 15 fourth-quarter points to lead the Pacers to a 101-97 home win over the Detroit Pistons at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I’m here for preseason. I’m here with the Indiana Pacers. That’s my mind-set,” said Douglas, who has averaged 7.6 points in six seasons but is known more for his defense.
At 29, he’s learned not to look too far ahead. He’s been so many places to get to this point, it doesn’t make sense to worry.
“Nothing was ever given to me,” he said. “I’ve always had to work hard and stuff like that, and I like it that way because at the end of the day, I still prove that I can play at this level and contribute at this level.”
He’s bounced around the league from the moment he entered in 2009. The Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the 29th overall pick, then traded Douglas to the New York Knicks. He was with the Knicks until 2012, then was traded to Houston. A year later, he was dealt to Sacramento, but didn’t stick.
Douglas signed with Golden State in 2013, but was traded yet again to Miami a year later. He played in China for much of last season before joining New Orleans for a pair of 10-day contracts and finishing the year with the Pelicans.
“It’s a tough situation for our front office,” said Pacers two-time All-Star Paul George. “We feel Toney is the makeup of this team.”
Head coach Frank Vogel has liked what Douglas has contributed in preseason. That doesn’t mean he’ll stick with Indiana, but there’s still two weeks to determine his fate.
“He’s played really well,” Vogel said. “He’s been a good veteran voice in the locker room and he’s got a very use-able skill at this level from the standpoint of his defensive pressure, really being a gnat and an annoying presence on the defensive end.
“And when he’s asked to carry a little bit of the scoring load, he can do that, too, like you saw tonight. So he’s done a good job for us.”
The reality is the Pacers have George Hill at point guard and Rodney Stuckey excels at handling the point off the bench. Shooting guard Monta Ellis can also shift to the point as can rookie Joseph Young.
So the roster numbers don’t favor Douglas, at least not for the moment. But he’ll keep working hard and remain hopeful.
“I’m not worried,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing good here. Contribute night in and night out.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.