Landry Fields is a Raptor.
According to numerous reports emanating from New York City, the Knicks declined to match Toronto’s three-year, $19-million U.S. offer sheet on the restricted free agent.
The Raptors would not confirm until the midnight ET deadline had passed.
On Saturday afternoon, not yet aware whether or not Fields would become the newest member of the Raptors, head coach Dwane Casey and power forward Ed Davis made it clear they’d be happy to have him in the fold.
Speaking about six hours before the New York Knicks had to make a call Casey said he hoped New York would let Fields walk.
“If we’re fortunate enough to get him, he’s a guy that can defend multiple positions. He runs the floor, good shooter … he gives us another guy who can catch-and-shoot, space the floor,” Casey said.
“It’s always nice to have guys with NBA experience to help us,” added Davis, who was part of the same rookie class as Fields.
“He plays hard and he knows his role. He doesn’t do things that he knows he can’t do. He does what he can and he does it well.”
With a ballooning payroll and heading for a massive luxury tax bill down the line, New York was not comfortable with the third year of the Fields offer sheet.
The Raptors gave Fields more than his expected market value as part of an attempt to lure Steve Nash to Toronto (Fields could have helped the Knicks get Nash in a sign-and-trade with Phoenix before Toronto swooped in) but believe he will be worth the money due to his ability to contribute on both ends of the floor and had some interest in him regardless of whether Nash came to town as well.
Casey is not overly concerned that Fields went from a first team all-rookie member in 2010-11, to a struggling sophomore last season.
“I know his numbers last year (8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 46% shooting, 25.6% from three vs. 9.7, 6.4, 49.7%, 39.3%) weren’t indicative of his ability to shoot the ball,” Casey said.
“Anytime you’ve got Carmelo (Anthony) he’s going to get the bulk of those minutes. J.R. Smith came in and was another factor. His role changed and I think that was a big thing with the way his numbers went down.
“I wasn’t in their locker room, I don’t know why, but I do know one thing: You don’t forget how to know how to shoot the ball. It’s just like swimming.”
Casey believes that Fields would thrive in Toronto’s faster, pick-and-roll centred system, as opposed to New York’s Anthony-driven, isolation-heavy quagmire.
Another reason why the coach looked forward to having Fields on board was because he is a strong rebounder for his position, just like new starter Kyle Lowry.
That said, Lowry, and Fields won’t be tasked with making up for the inability of big man Andrea Bargnani to pull down boards at an acceptable rate.
“We’re going to demand that Andrea rebounds, he’s still 7-foot,” said Casey matter-of-factly.
“Some of his rebounding problems are because of him being spaced a lot offensively (away from the basket). Defensively he can get under and do a better job … I thought before he got hurt he did a much better job of attempting to go to the rim, which is half of the battle.”
But Casey certainly knows Fields won’t hurt Toronto’s performance on the glass and that’s part of his appeal.
“Fields does give us another rebounder, Kyle gives us another rebounder in the paint from the point guard position,” he said.
“We’re excited about some of the possibilities.”
With a suddenly crowded picture at shooting guard and small forward (Fields can play both, but rookie Terrence Ross is expected to primarily be a shooting guard this season) expect more moves to balance out the roster.
James Johnson is the likeliest candidate to be moved, but others have more trade value.