According to multiple sources, including ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Toronto Raptors and restricted free agent Landry Fields have agreed to terms on a three year, $20 million contract. The contract would be back loaded in year three, in what is known as a “poison pill” contract offer, very similar to the contract Omer Asik agreed to earlier in the week with the Houston Rockets.
First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with what the Raptors are doing. Are they purposely making it difficult for the Knicks to match the offer and be competitive on the current free agent market? Absolutely. But, they’re also taking a chance that the Knicks don’t match and get stuck with the contract themselves, which is clearly a risk they’re willing to take.
Looking at this contract from the perspective of an NBA fan, this move is sheer brilliance by the Raptors. The only logical way the Knicks were going to acquire Steve Nash would have been through a sign-and-trade. The Phoenix Suns, according to sources, have stated that any sign-and-trade would have to include Fields as the focal point in what they receive in compensation.
Now, the Raptors have locked Fields into a contract that wouldn’t be ideal for Phoenix or the Knicks, which eliminates most scenarios in which the Knicks and Suns would be able to agree on a package in trade. This move could take the Knicks completely out of the Nash sweepstakes, which only improve the Raptors chances of signing the free agent point guard, who they offered a three-year, $36 million contract earlier in the week. The cap space is there for Toronto, especially if they amnesty Jose Calderon, to make both of these moves.
As for the Knicks in all of this, what a crushing blow. If they match the offer, they’re even more limited on the free agent front as far as salary cap flexibility. If they don’t match the offer, their bench becomes even more depleted, and the need to re-sign all of J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin exponentially increase.
The Raptors know perfectly well they’re drastically overpaying for Landry Fields. However, their big catch isn’t the Fields contract. They’ve figured out a way to not only force the Knicks hand, but to eliminate a competitor in the Steve Nash sweepstakes. Its a genius play, really is.
With all that being said, I don’t see how the Knicks match this offer. Its a gross overpay for a player the team views as a back-up wing man that isn’t even the first player off the bench. The team has three days to make a decision, and I just don’t know how the team could put this type of money into a player like Fields. Its the hard truth.
Either way, the Raptors have seriously opened some eyes with this move.