Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Knicks Decline Match On Offer Sheet, Fields Now a Raptor
After a surreal day that saw Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald literally going out of his way to avoid everyone, he made the one move late Saturday that most everyone expected him to make.
The Knicks confirmed on Saturday evening that they would not be matching the three-year, $18.7 million offer sheet given to third-year shooting guard Landry Fields by the Toronto Raptors. Fields reportedly agreed to the offer sheet on July 3, officially signed it on Wednesday and the Knicks had until Saturday evening at 11:59 p.m. to match the deal.
The departure of Fields leaves the door open for J.R. Smith, who was re-signed this week for two years and approximately $5.6 million with the second year being a player option, to move into the starting lineup at shooting guard. Smith averaged 12.5 points per game last season and will help the starting lineup with his scoring prowess and athleticism, but those same attributes will be big losses for a bench that will now feature Steve Novak, Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby among others.
In his two-year, 148-game tenure at Madison Square Garden, Fields had his ups, but probably more downs. Seemingly a steal as the 39th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Fields immediately moved into the starting lineup and flourished early, earning NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month accolades in November and December before being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team at season’s end.
On Feb. 22, 2011, the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony and Fields has arguably never been the same since. He started 62 of 66 games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, but his scoring, rebounding, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage all dipped, while his turnovers rose. In his two years with the Knicks, Fields averaged 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
With the Knicks passing on paying Fields a back-loaded deal that includes a third year for over $9 million, the Raptors and General Manager Bryan Colangelo are stuck with paying Fields a contract that is sure to be ridiculed given Fields’ struggles. When Fields agreed to the deal, it was viewed by many as a way of preventing the Knicks from acquiring free agent point guard Steve Nash via sign-and-trade, but also bait to help convince the Canadian-born Nash to spend his final years in his home country. Fields was viewed as a key piece in any trade sign-and-trade deal the Knicks would make to acquire Nash.
Instead, Nash ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Raptors ended up with a questionable contract.
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