There were a couple of disappointing points of the Raptors’ off-season so far – namely letting Jerryd Bayless go – but between my own opinion and from what I can gather from RaptorBlog readers and commenters, it seems most Raptors fans are pleased or at least content with how the summer has gone and the general direction of the team.

Adding Kyle Lowry was obviously the biggest splash, but drafting Terrence Ross (and Quincy Acy) and officially getting Jonas Valanciunas’ buyout and Lietuvos Rytas release completed should also prove to be positives going forward.

For the most part, it’s been a productive couple of months that should see a younger, more athletic and even more defensively capable roster take the court come October. Bryan Colangelo hasn’t done enough to assure anyone that the Raptors are a future contender or that his job is definitively safe, but he’s done enough to field a team that should be able to compete for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and as underwhelming as it might sound, that’s a start.

But perhaps the most talked about decision of the Raptors’ off-season was the lucrative offer-sheet extended to Landry Fields. Some of us feel Fields is due for a bounce-back season and will thrive again away from Carmelo Anthony. Others feel the third-year Standford product is nothing more than a rookie fluke who wasn’t worth a look this summer. Whether it really was all in an attempt to keep Steve Nash away from the Knicks or not, whatever side of the Landry Fields argument you fall on, no one will deny that the Raptors overpaid to acquire him.

His $6-7 million cap hit might look more manageable after what I expect will be a solid season as a glue guy for this team, but right now, I won’t deny that the price is steep.

The question, though, is how damaging do you think Fields’ contract is to the Raptors, and how much of the goodwill from the Lowry trade and Valanciunas arrival does it wash away?

The reason I ask now is that in Chad Ford’s latest “off-season grades” for ESPN, he seems to believe that the Fields contract is quite the stain.

Ford gives the Raptors a B- (23 out of the 30 teams received a form of an “A” or “B”), summing up his take on the Raps with this:

The only thing keeping the Raptors from getting an A is the fact that Fields’ offer sheet was not matched by the Knicks.

And later this: It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a pretty big blemish on what has otherwise been a pretty positive summer.”

The whole “grade” system is obviously arbitrary, but Ford’s closing point puzzles me.

Ford admits that he would have been ready to give the Raptors an “A” without Fields in the equation. That one “blemish,” as Ford puts it, doesn’t just drop the Raptors from an excellent A to an A- or a B+ or even a standard B. It nearly drops them to below average status in terms of summer performance.

If you honestly didn’t like the acquisition of Lowry, the drafting of Ross or the Raptors’ overall work this summer, that’s fair. I’d still argue against you, but at the end of the day, it’s your opinion, and it’s not insanely crazy.

I’m just having a hard time understanding how some Raptors fans and even Ford can say that virtually everything the Raptors did this off-season was beneficial, but by giving that one guy a little over the league average salary for the next three years, they nearly ruined everything.

To me, it’s a little too dramatic, especially in a summer where Omer Asik got $25 million.

I’ve already argued my case (both at RaptorBlog and on recent RaptorBlog Radio podcasts) as to why I don’t think the Fields contract is as bad as some dramatics will have you believe, so I won’t go down that road again. But I will leave you with this, Fields’ cap-hit is expected to be around $6.3 million per season. Last season, players in that same range were named Drew Gooden, Jermaine O’Neal, Al Harrington, Michael Beasley, Tayshaun Prince and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. There are a couple of productive players and some veterans in that group, but it’s not exactly a who’s who of impressive NBA talent in 2012, either.

The Raptors “overpaid” or bid high to pry a young wing defender and rebounder, who’s just 24-years-old and has had NBA success, away from a division rival.

If you think that’s the definitive move in a summer that saw the team acquire Kyle Lowry, draft Terrence Ross, bring over Jonas Valanciunas and let Jerryd Bayless go, I think you’re missing the point.