Big Douglas News Spells End of An Era
With Monday’s big news that Katie Douglas had signed a free agent deal with the Connecticut Sun, it marked the end of an era for the Indiana Fever.
On Feb. 19, 2008, Kelly Krauskopf was lauded for pulling off one of the most memorable transactions in franchise history by acquiring the hometown girl away from Connecticut. That date, in fact, is one of the club’s #Fever15 top anniversary moments.
But alas, times change. And circumstances have changed.
Douglas was a free agent. But she played just four games in 2013 and had undergone back surgery last September. What would be her health status moving forward? It was a delicate situation all of last season and would likely remain delicate for the foreseeable future. And certainly a delicate negotiating position both for Douglas and the Fever as they hammered out details for a new contract in 2014.
Yes, the Fever made offers to keep the former Perry Meridian and Purdue star. In fact, I have been told the Fever offer was comparable to that offered by the Sun. I’m not privy to contract details, but based upon comments in The Indianapolis Star by Douglas’ agent Jim Tanner, “the Fever’s offer contained an exclusion for prior injury, meaning the contract could have been voided or decreased if Douglas was impaired by a back injury for which she had surgery last fall.”
If the Fever offer was otherwise comparable in length and value, who can blame Krauskopf and her staff for protecting themselves against further injury to Douglas’ back? Remember the tail end of 2013 when Douglas returned from a 30-game absence and Jessica Breland was required to be waived? After two games to end the regular season, Douglas sustained another back injury, was lost for the playoffs and Indiana was unable to add Breland or any other player for the playoffs.
In the end, it was probably best for both parties that Douglas take a guaranteed deal with the Sun. It is unfortunate for the split to take place. Everyone in Indiana wants the best for Katie and this allows her to proceed with her career and get the market value she was seeking. For Indiana, the Fever continues to revamp its roster and hopes to avoid a lot of the injury question marks that plagued them in 2013.
Eerily similar to the parting of ways by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, Douglas should be remembered for all the greatness she brought to the Indiana franchise. Were it not for Douglas’ impactful presence, Indiana may not have reached the finals in 2009 or won a title in 2012. Indiana has reached the playoffs in nine straight seasons – six of those with Douglas on its roster, with four trips to the conference finals in the last five years.
Those numbers really are elite in WNBA history. Virtually unmatched. And guess who holds the WNBA individual record with 11 consecutive years of playoff appearances? Katie Douglas! In fact, she is second in league history with 56 playoff games under her belt. She leaves the Fever franchise as its No. 2 scorer of all-time, with a single-game mark of 34 points vs. Washington on July 28, 2009.
Katie Douglas is a local icon in women’s basketball. And she’ll retain that status even as she returns to the Sun, the same franchise that drafted her in 2001. She will be missed by the Indiana Fever. That is an understatement. The Fever didn’t want her to leave. But for both parties, perhaps both may benefit.
Douglas earned the title as champion first with Purdue in 1999 and later with the Fever in 2012. She’ll always be a champion in Indianapolis.