The deadline for the Knicks to match Toronto’s three-year offer sheet to Landry Fields passed on Saturday evening with the Knicks declining to match, meaning Fields is now a Toronto Raptor.
Yes, it is now official. NYK do not match #Raptors offer sheet to RFA guard-forward Landry Fields.
— RaptorsPR (@RaptorsPR) July 15, 2012
Now the debate among fans will likely shift to whether or not Fields is overpaid, and by how much.
Initial reports pegged the three-year deal’s value at approximately $20 million, but in recent days we’ve seen other reports between $18.5 million and $19 million, which would make the contract a little easier to swallow for Raptors fans.
Either way, Fields’ deal may not look good right now, but given some of the other contracts and offer sheets handed out so far this summer, it’s also far from an albatross, especially when you consider that we’re dealing with a 24-year-old who was a pretty highly touted rookie just a year ago.
We’ll be able to better judge the contract, strictly from a financial standpoint, once Bryan Colangelo is finished tinkering and we see what the Raptors’ cap situation looks like going forward. Until then, we should be focusing on what the addition of Fields means from a basketball standpoint.
By now, most of you know his story – Stanford product has an eye opening rookie season in New York to help the Knicks make the playoffs for the first time in seven years, only to follow up with a disappointing sophomore season that saw him regress in most facets of the game.
Taking both seasons into account, the Raptors are acquiring a durable wing player who averages about nine points, five rebounds, a couple of assists and a steal in precisely 30 minutes per game. Fields hasn’t missed a game so far in two years, suiting up for all of New York’s 148 regular season games and nine playoff games over the last couple of seasons, starting in all but five of those contests.
He can play comfortably at either the shooting guard position or at small forward. With DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross expected to get most of their minutes at the two-spot, Fields appears to be eying a starting job at the three.
James Johnson provided a solid defensive presence for Toronto at small forward last season, seems to be a developing player and would be a cheaper option when compared to Fields. More than any complaint with the financial terms of Fields’ new contract, the presence of the more cost friendly Johnson is what makes me hesitant about fully embracing this signing. Though in fairness, if you believe recent rumblings, Johnson might not even be a Raptor come October.
So far, the Raptors’ combination of natural wing talent (Johnson and Kleiza are more natural forwards) has gone from DeRozan plus Forbes to DeRozan, Ross and Fields. That trio won’t scare any of the NBA’s elite, but it is a definite upgrade.
Landry should fit in well in a Dwane Casey system. He’s a good wing defender, rebounds the ball well for his position, plays a smart game and has a high basketball IQ. In many ways, his game at the three spot is a nice compliment to some of the liabilities of DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani at the two and four positions.
If he can regain the three-point shooting stroke he showed as a rookie, Fields can be a threat on both ends of the floor and could evolve into an above-average player well worth his salary. If he continues to clank jumpers like he did last season, Fields may prove to be a very expensive mediocre talent on a team desperate to escape from eternal mediocrity.
Most believe Fields’ offensive game suffered as a result of a New York offence that became increasingly stagnant with Carmelo Anthony on board, and I tend to agree. Whether he became a Raptor or not, I simply refused to believe that Fields was the offensive liability he appeared to be in 2011-2012.
What I’m expecting is a defensive-minded player who should have a bounce back offensive season, and if Fields delivers on those expectations, I’ll be able to live with his six-plus million dollar cap hit.
If not, this pricey acquisition will be yet another swing and miss for a General Manager running out of strikes.
Welcome to Toronto, Landry. Try not to let the pressure of the contract get to you, and by all means, feel free to bring Elaine along with you to the Air Canada Centre every now and then.