Way back on January 25th when then interim New York Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald elected to pick up the option of struggling point guard Toney Douglas, it was thought at the time that retaining Douglas would give the Knicks cap flexibility for the 2012-13 season.
Yet things never really work out the way they are supposed to in today’s NBA and as it turns out picking up that option could impact the Knicks this upcoming offseason.
His contract isn’t crippling to team, making only $2.1 million this season, but given the state of when the Knicks could be when it comes to the salary cap, that’s money that Grunwald almost certainly wishes he would have in his pocket right now.
When that option was picked up, Douglas was struggling big time as the Knicks starting point guard, and Jeremy Lin was still a week or two away from captivating the NBA. So it probably made sense at the time, but now it’s a move Grunwald likely wouldn’t have made since Douglas was buried deep on the bench for the rest of the season.
If instead the team had decided to let Douglas fall into free agency, it’s conceivable that Lin, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith could have all been lured back. At the very least, the Knicks would have been in a much better position to target a summer free-agent class headlined by Steve Nash.
With Lin, Novak Smith, Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries all free agents, the Knicks will need them to come back for less than their market value to retain a couple of them.
While Douglas can be limited offensively, his defense could be an asset for the Knicks if rookie Iman Shumpert misses significant time to start next season. While this is a nice bonus for the Knicks, it does not provide them with the type of point guard they are looking for to help complement Lin’s skill set.
It is difficult to imagine a situation in which the Knicks could deal Douglas, even for an additional second-round draft pick. With their options limited and their budget strained, the Knicks must try again and hope for the Douglas of just a season ago — a tenacious defender and scoring sparkplug.
If Douglas can regain his old form, perhaps that $2.1 million will be seen in hindsight as helping, rather than haunting.