TORONTO - Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo made an impressive poker move in his pursuit of Steve Nash on Tuesday.
As first reported by ESPN's Marc Stein, Colangelo signed New York Knicks restricted free agent Landry Fields to a 3-year offer sheet. Sources confirmed to the Toronto Sun that the deal was worth $19 million U.S. in total.
Ink can't officially be put to paper until July 11th and New York will have three days to match.
As valuable as Fields is as a two-way contributor, the fallout of the move is just as important to the Raptors.
The Knicks were hoping to use Fields as a major part of a sign-and-trade offer to the Phoenix Suns, if Nash chose New York as his destination. Now, the Knicks have nothing to entice the Suns with and instead, due to salary cap complications in the final year of Landry’s new deal (New York already has a ton of salary committed in three years and Fields will get the bulk of his money in Year 3 of the back-loaded contract), likely will lose a rotation player to a division rival.
So with the Knicks now out of the running for Nash and with Deron Williams set to re-up with Brooklyn, Dallas stands as the only other viable competitor for Colangelo and the Raptors for the two-time NBA MVP.
It’s a lot of money for a player who only averaged 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and shot just 25.6% from three-point range and 56.2% from the free throw line as a sophomore, but if it results in a Nash signing, it will be worth it.
The Raptors desperately need Nash for a host of reasons discussed in this space over the past week.
If Fields can return to his rookie form (9.7 points, 6.4 rebounds per game, 39.3% shooting from outside, 76.9% from the line), nobody will be complaining about his contract either and he’ll be a fine complement to Nash.
Fields struggled after the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, losing his starting spot and, it seems, his confidence.
Last February, with Anthony out for most of the month due to injury, Fields bumped his averages up to 10.5 points and 5.2 rebounds on 47.8% shooting from the field in 15 games.
He finally found his three-point stroke in April (33%) and played well against the eventual champion Miami Heat in the playoffs, starting four of the five games.
The Raptors expect Fields to start at small forward, with rookie Terrence Ross backing up both Fields and DeMar DeRozan.
Nash is expecting to make his decision soon after Williams, who reportedly was working out at Brooklyn’s facilities on Tuesday, a good sign he’ll be going back there.