Douglas: Lockout helped me heal

NEW YORK -- After Carmelo Anthony fielded the most obvious question about Chris Paul, there was one pressing question for Toney Douglas, who was the only other player at the Knicks' training facility on Thursday: How are you feeling?

Douglas, who had right shoulder surgery in May to repair a torn labrum after the Knicks were swept by the Celtics in the first round, said he feels great.

"I'm ready to play tomorrow," said Douglas, who had been experiencing pain since last November.

Not friendly for fans, but fortunately for Douglas, who amazingly still led the NBA in 3-pointers after the 2011 All-Star break (68), the lockout provided more time for the combo guard to patch up.

"[My doctors] don't think it's going to be an issue at all this season," Douglas said. "I really feel good. Even though we had the lockout, I feel like the recovery time really helped me. I feel great, I feel strong. I've been lifting, getting my shoulder stronger. I'm not going to be on the court tentative or laboring, so I'm able to go."

Douglas said following the operation, he was able to return to the court in August. He credited his physical therapist, Robert Panariello, who works at Long Island's Professional Athletic Performance Center, for speeding up his recovery and bulking him up to 205 pounds. Douglas spent time lifting weights to make sure his shoulder was rock solid and doing two-a-days so he'd be in top-notch shape come opening tip-off.

"I've been working out, grinding, offense and defense, staying in shape," Douglas said. "I just want to make sure I don't have any problems with my shoulder, and I can play hard and dive on the floor. I feel like every player should work on everything. You just can't be good at one thing."

Douglas, who attended a couple of the labor talks, said he's not surprised that both sides were able to come to a resolution this soon. Now, he foresees a frantic free agency period, and he knows looking ahead that there will be constant trade rumors involving CP3. But Douglas said he doesn't tune into any of the reports. He realizes it comes with the territory, and his focus is on the court.

"I don't think it will have any effect on me as a player because it's part of the business," Douglas said. "If you're going to play in this league, things are going to happen like that. The only thing I can do is control what I can control, and that's just stay on my grind, working out, being mentally and physically focused on the court every time. I don't read the papers, I don't listen to the TV -- none of that stuff -- even when I was in high school because I just want to stay on one track.

"There are always going to be fans talking too. You're going to hear it all the time. You can't not hear it. It is what it is; it's part of my job. It's just going to be like that every year for each person. At the end of the day, I just feel like I'm going to do what I have to do, and when I step out there on the court I'm going to play hard."

When Christmas Day arrives, Douglas is excited about returning to a rejuvenated form, and teaming up with rookie Iman Shumpert off the bench to form a potent defensive duo. They were once ACC rivals when Douglas was a junior at Florida State and Shumpert a freshman at Georgia Tech.

"When I played against him when he was a freshman, I always told myself, 'He's going to be a good player, even though he was a freshman,'" Douglas said. "Me and him talk all the time about making it difficult for players in the backcourt because we're real athletic and we're defensive-minded players. It's going to be great working with him and I'm looking forward to helping him in every type of way."

Soon, their opponents will dread dealing with passing lanes.

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