Douglas 'comfortable' in return

Katie Douglas (23) is guarded by Tina Charles of the Sun during a 2012 game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Douglas and and Charles will be teammates this season after Douglas signed a two-year deal to return to Connecticut.
Katie Douglas (23) is guarded by Tina Charles of the Sun during a 2012 game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Douglas and and Charles will be teammates this season after Douglas signed a two-year deal to return to Connecticut. Jessica Hill/ AP Photo

The consensus reaction from WNBA fans and media when hearing that Katie Douglas signed a free agent contract with the Connecticut Sun on Monday was a resounding "What?!"

Douglas asked Sun management to trade her to the Indiana Fever in 2008 so that she could return to her home city and be near family.

Now she's returning to the franchise she helped transform into a winner.

"It was surprising for many, but not my inner circle and myself," Douglas said during a Tuesday teleconference. "I've always had a great relationship with (Sun vice president and general manager) Chris (Sienko) and (chief executive office) Mitch (Etess) and the guys back in Connecticut and the organization.

"I wanted to go where I was comfortable. Those people that know me know that comfort level is huge for me."

Douglas, 34, is one of the best players to ever wear a Sun uniform. Connecticut made the WNBA Finals twice during her five-year stint, and she was the team's first All-WNBA first-team pick (2006).

Life and circumstances required Douglas to go home after the 2007 season.

"I was on the fence about wanting to go home, and we were kind of in a rebuilding mode," Douglas said. "I was at the peak of my career and didn't really want to try to rebuild.

"It was a combination of things. It was that. It was the constant grind of being overseas and being in the WNBA and never feeling like I ever had a break. I felt like being home in the summer. ... that I could be more at peace and ease with my lifestyle."

Indiana made the finals twice during Douglas' six seasons and won the WNBA title in 2012. The 13-year guard is fifth all-time in WNBA history in made 3-pointers (663) and ninth in scoring (5,142).

Douglas missed all but four games last season due to a back injury. Dr. Robert Watkins, a prominent spinal surgeon, performed lower lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October in Los Angeles.

"It's not a disc fusion or back fusion," Douglas said. "I had nothing as serious as that, but it is still back surgery."

Jim Tanner, Douglas' agent, told David Woods of the Indianapolis Star that Connecticut guaranteed Douglas a maximum contract and the Fever didn't.

Tanner also said Indiana's offer had an exclusion for prior injury, meaning the contract could be altered or voided if Douglas was hampered by her back.

Watkins hasn't cleared Douglas yet for full contact for precautionary reasons, and, as she noted, she doesn't have anywhere to go that requires getting knocked around. She's been running and expects to be ready to go when camp opens in late April.

"Right after surgery and I came out of anaesthesia, I was walking with a walker and building my way back up," Douglas said. "When I got back to Indiana, I walked three-to-five miles a day for six-to-eight weeks, then I started physical therapy."

Life has challenged Douglas.

Both of her parents died of cancer before she was 22. Purdue teammate Tiffany Young was killed by a drunk driver a few months after the Boilermakers won the national championship.

"If something is looked at as negative or a disadvantage, or a bad event happens, which many people look at back surgery as that, I'm always looking at trying to make it into a positive and an advantage" Douglas said. "I've been taking time this offseason to dedicate to my health and my body and get back and everything. Make sure everything is firing and feeling good so that I can be successful this summer and for years on."

n.griffen@theday.com

Katie Douglas is leaving the Indiana Fever to return to the Connecticut Sun this season, a move that will provide experience and leadership to a Sun team that struggled a year ago.
Katie Douglas is leaving the Indiana Fever to return to the Connecticut Sun this season, a move that will provide experience and leadership to a Sun team that struggled a year ago. Darron Cummings/AP Photo
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