This offseason it would appear one of the most polarizing debates for Raptor fans is the signing of Landry Fields. The signing of the Knicks restricted free agent was done with a bigger picture in mind. The move instantly upgraded the small forward position and, at the time at least, prevented Steve Nash from signing elsewhere.
For a day or two it seemed like a stroke of sheer genius. Our GM had effectively solidified his big off-season by signing another strong piece to the team puzzle and blocking the competition for his coveted free agent point guard.
Then, the Lakers came in and made Nash an offer he couldn’t refuse and Colangelo and the fanbase in Toronto watched their coveted acquisition walk away to the bright lights of Los Angeles. The Raptors were left in the cold with only a significant offer sheet signed for Landry Fields.
Suddenly the signing that looked incredible days before, appeared to be a giant mistake.
Despite Colangelo’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry to take over as point guard, many Raptor faithful still see the Landry Fields’ contract as a mistake.
Bill Simmons put his two cents in as well on Monday and fans continue to doubt the contract that Fields was signed to this summer.
The deal is for $18.7 million over three years. The last year of that contract is guaranteed for close to $9 million. That is a lot of money to pay a player that has only two NBA seasons under his belt and one that doesn’t appear to be a superstar in the making.
The contract is expensive and Colangelo admittedly overpaid to get Fields, but it wasn’t as bad as most people think. The first two years (at close to $5 million per year) are actually fair market value for a player of Fields abilities. The third, well that was the year that got the deal done and one that could become a tradeable asset later on.
Fields has been a consistent starter over the last two years with the Knicks and was named to the All-Rookie team in his first season. He was also part of the Rising Stars squad at the All-Star game.
This past year he encountered a little bit of difficulty, but when playing with Jeremy Lin found great success in the back court for the Knicks en route to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
The popular Basketball site Wages of Wins, argues that Landry Fields is worth the money. In a climate where teams overpay players with enormous salaries and don’t get very much in return, giving Fields a decent term for what should amount to steady production seems like a wise choice.
Is the deal a little too much? Probably, but it’s only three years for a player just entering his prime. Restricted free agents are not cheap and you usually have to be creative to get them and need to fork over a little more coin.
Fields fits right into the Raptors rotation and is a player with a pedigree that fits quite well with current head coach Dwane Casey. He has the potential to be a part of this Raptor team for a long time.
Fields is a bulldog. He works hard on both ends of the floor and judging by his stats he is capable of providing opportunities to win on both ends of the floor. He is a great lockdown defender who will likely be given the task of guarding some of the NBA’s most elite scorer’s during the next three seasons and he shoots the ball well (46%) FG%) he just hasn’t been a very good three point threat (25%).
He instantly becomes the starter at small forward when the season begins, unless he and DeRozan change positions in training camp. He will become one of the better wing players the Raptors have had in recent years and he is only 25 years old. If you’re gonna spend big money on a free agent, better to spend on one entering his prime than one on the downside of his career.
What should give the Raptors more comfort with this signing is the way Fields played with New York point guard Jeremy Lin. When Lin and Fields were on the floor together Fields averaged 10.1 PPG, had 6.1 RPG and shot 50% from the field. In Toronto, he will have a solid point guard distributing the ball in Kyle Lowry. Their chemistry could help improve Fields’ numbers even more as Fields will be one of the top offensive options on the floor for the Raptors.
Toronto fans are beginning to warm slightly to Fields’ despite the fact that Steve Nash elected to go elsewhere. Fields has shown himself to be very media savvy and has a great sense of humour in most interviews he’s had here so far. He’s also shown a fondness for the city of Toronto, something Raptor fans seem to always look for.
He is active on twitter and has a number of popular youtube videos he created with Canadian Andy Rautins. He should be a popular player in media scrums and post game pressers. He’s funny, approachable and isn’t afraid to be himself. He has the potential to be the mouthpiece for the team. A player as likeable and camera friendly as Fields hasn’t graced the Raptors locker room in a long time.
Though all of these qualities do not impact what happens on the basketball court, they remain important nevertheless. This isn’t to say fans won’t enjoy his play on the court.
Fans are likely going to enjoy his style of play. He works hard, gives his all and does little things that get fans cheering. He was a fan favourite in New York and will likely become one here. There is a certain type of player that Toronto fans tend to gravitate towards, usually these players play the game of basketball the way a hockey player would. They’re fighters and work hard. They play a team-first game, aren’t afriad to get dirty and admit to their own mistakes. That is Landry Fields in a nutshell.
Raptor fans who fear handing out big contracts to players like Fields need to understand that this isn’t like Jason Kapono, this isn’t going to end like Hedo Turkoglu. Hedo was coming off of one solid year and cashed in, he was also much older than Fields and Kapono didn’t have anywhere near the skill set of Fields. He was a one-dimensional player that failed to fit into a system designed for him.
Fields’ contract is not an albatross that will clog capspace for years. His first two years are very modestly priced at $5million and the third and final year is $9 million (An average cap hit of $6.3 million) which, if he doesn’t end up working out, could become an asset in a trade as an expiring deal in the third year.
This will be different. Fields fits the mould of what Dwane Casey wants his team to do, he’s young and athletic and a top-notch defender and fills a direct need this team had.
Fans need to get over the failed attempt at Steve Nash and realize we may actually be better off with Lowry and Fields in the long run. They’re younger and fit better with what the Raptors are trying to do in the long term.
Yes, the Raptors did overpay a little, but it is very likely they will get their money’s worth.
The Zan Tabak Herald