The Raptors have a mid-level available and have two ways to spend that money: sign a backup big or sign a wing defender. Anyone choosing to spend it on a wing is very likely assuming that Landry Fields is a complete write-off in terms of on-court production. I would be inclined to say that that’s a tad bit on the hasty side except that evidence accumulated over the last two years firmly suggests that he’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Nobody’s quite expecting Landry Fields to start averaging 11 points on 50% of shooting as he did during his rookie season in New York. Upon joining the Raptors he played through injuries which forced him to alter his release, and by the time he got through his elbow and wrist surgeries, his shot-mechanics included a hitch which even he can’t tell is a problem or a desired motion in his release. From a three-point shooting standpoint, he’s a complete disaster. After shooting 39% in his rookie season, he went down to 26% the year after that (‘Melo effect had something to do with that), to 14% in his first season with the Raptors to 0% last year. That’s right – 0%. He missed all five of the threes he took in 30 games. The nil percentage isn’t as telling as the 5 attempts from downtown he attempted, which goes to show just how shot (get it?) his confidence is when it comes to the long ball. From a PER36 minute point of view, he’s gone from attempting 3.1 threes in his rookie year to 0.6 last season. That’s a man who does not want to shoot.  From being a “3-and-D” man, he’s now become a “Maybe-some-D-when-healthy” man.

Despite his offensive failings there is redemption available for Fields, because as a long-armed 6’7″ wing, he’s an able defender who knows how to use his length to, if not disrupt, play the correct angles in one-on-one and team defense situations. His approach towards Joe Johnson in Game 2 in the Nets series was a perfect example of how he can influence a game defensively. He’s also a consistent team defender because he doesn’t gamble and sticks to his cover, which makes Dwane Casey’s aversion to using Fields even more perplexing. Perhaps Casey feels that Fields’ lack of three-point shooting garners such little respect on the offensive end that defenses can play off of him without fear of paying for it, which is an extreme stance but founded in some reality.

Accepting that Fields is a shooting void, there is a grassroots movement that believes that Fields is someone who can play off the ball and punish defenses with his movement. That, I find, is more fantasy than reality. Partially, it has to do with injury because other than wrist and elbow issues, Fields often suffers from back spasms which keep him nailed to the bench, and when he play, hamper his movement where he’s more of an idle bystander than an active participant in the offense.  As a fan, it’s this backdoor-cutting, baseline screening, weak-side moving Fields that we’d like to see – at a bare minimum – on offense. If he’s unable to even do that, then he truly represents Marcus Camby-levels of dead salary.

Masai Ujiri and Dwane Casey have to, I would think, have a view on Fields that is more or less agreeable with this piece, because his lack of playing time (even in situations that warrant skill that he supposedly has) speaks volumes to just how little confidence management has in his abilities. He is on the roster because he remains an immovable contract. For a GM that was able to shift monumentally hideous contracts like Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay, it says something when Landry Fields remains on the roster.  On a closer look, though, you could make a case that when it comes to value-for-money, Fields is worse than Bargnani or Gay, which is a feat on its own.

Fields is, depending on where you’re getting a numbers, likely to make $8.5M (Hoopshype) next year as part of the “poison pill” deal that Bryan Colangelo signed him to.  It is very likely that he becomes a John Salmons-type asset at the deadline for a team looking to dump salary.   Even the idea of playing him just to showcase him doesn’t hold water because the likelihood of him impressing a team to the point where his basketball value surpasses his contract value is very low.  Until the deadline, the Raptors have to find some use for him and given the current making of the roster, Casey is forced to play him unless Bruno Caboclo or DeAnde Daniels find their way in front of him.  The former will get a chance, the latter might not make it to training camp.  Assuming his back is functional and that his shot remains a hot mess, this version of Landry Fields can still provide some sort of defense at the expense of offense.   He’s essentially in line to be a slightly worse version of John Salmons on offense, but a slightly improved version of Salmons on defense.

The Raptors can still make use of Fields in a mix-and-match lineup which has enough shooting on the floor.  For example, a lineup of Vasquez/Lowry, Williams/DeRozan, Patterson, Fields and Hayes/Nogueira has enough shooting from three positions on the court, allowing Fields to stay on the court.  He could conceivably play 10-15 minutes in a structure similar to this while being used situationally, and sometimes hilariously like the time Dwane Casey used him for a total of 14 seconds in Game 7 in two stints of 7 seconds each.   This sort of lineup is difficult to sustain if Fields continues to be a void on offense.  Teams will catch on to what the Raptors are doing at which point the importance of Fields’ movement is magnified, and so far he hasn’t shown that he can consistently be the intelligent, off-the-ball player that he’s often drummed up to be.

The good news for Raptors fans is that Fields truly hasn’t been 100% at any point in his Raptors career.  The bad news is that his wrist and elbow injuries might have decimated his shot, and his back injuries might have negated his defensive presence.  The reality is that there’s no motivator in professional sports like the contract year, which is what Fields is coming upon.  You have to hope that when given a chance – and he will get a chance – he’s able to contribute. Whether it be spelling DeRozan defensively against a tough cover, punishing teams for overplaying one of our guards, or out-rebounding his man on account of his length, he needs to do something.

The fear is that he possesses no discernible skill that will allow him to stay on the court, let alone make Dwane Casey think of creative ways to get him into the lineup. The hope is that his teammates do enough on offense allowing Fields to hide and become one of the better wing defenders on the team.  There aren’t many instances of where this happens in the league, as defense-first players like Thabo Sefolosha, Trevor Ariza, Tony Allen etc.,  all have at least one thing they do well on offense.  Fields, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to demonstrate this which makes it very difficult for Dwane Casey to plan for him, reducing him to what we saw last year: a very situational player.

I never begrudged Fields because you can’t blame a man for taking the money handed to him.  I don’t even begrudge him for his tenure here, because he’s been marred by injury and has had his confidence shattered.  Following him on Twitter, he’s a nice enough guy who, by all reports, is a hard worker and consummate professional.  All one can do for Landry Fields is hope he pulls through, stays injury-free, and gets his offensive game going, both for the Raptors sakes and his long-term NBA career.  At 26 years of age, he still has one shot to get it right. Let’s hope he takes it.

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  • ElaineAlden

    Agree with ya zarar, can’t dog the guy for his time here. He is pure class and a great teammate. Good news is he can’t get any worse!!

  • MoPeteRules

    No way Fields’ contract is worse than Bargnani or Gay’s, and I say that because while Fields isn’t necessarily contributing on the court, he at least didn’t eat up possessions and negatively affect the team with his play. And sure, he can’t shoot (and the optimistic fan will hope that lingering effects from his surgery have passed, combined with a summer of hard work will slightly remedy this) but I think people over value the shot making ability of a backup small forward. The second unit will consist of Lou Williams, Greivus (assuming all goes well), and Patterson, all who have shown their ability to make the long bomb. Particularly if Patterson is jacking long bombs, combined with an undersized Chuck Hayes, I have no problem with Landry being limited to crashing the boards, playing tight D, and running the lanes to find easy buckets. He’s shown glimpses of doing all this when he was healthy last year, and if he comes to camp healthy this year, I have no trouble putting my confidence in Landry as the backup SF.

    • arsenalist

      Thanks for the comment. Not saying he’s worse than Bargnani or Gay, I’m saying value-for-money, i.e., production per dollar paid, he could be worse. Of course, Bargnani and Gay are much worse contracts to shift.

      The issue I have with Landry being dedicated to a bench D role is that 1) Casey needs to plan for that sort of things and I don’t think he has the patience, and 2) there aren’t many precedents in the league where a guy is getting significant playing time without having some sort of offensive quality.

      • MoPeteRules

        And I also meant to note that Fields is a class act, and didn’t call the Raptors the worst team in the league nor ban stat sheets in the locker room. But I agree with you, the confidence matter is two fold. He needs to find his confidence, then gain the confidence of the coaching staff/management.

        In terms of precedent, there definitely exists such a thing with big men who are called upon for nothing more than blocked shots and rebounds. Obviously Landry is no big man, but I guess my point is with the small ball second unit we have, I think he could find his niche as a guy who rebounds, plays passing lanes, and runs the floor hard looking for putbacks, back door cuts, etc. And he’s a smart baller who certainly doesn’t force his game, so I’m on board with giving him a clean slate at the start of the season. I hope the Raptors brass can give him a second chance too.

      • higdale

        com on there are some bigs in this league who couldn’t piss in water if they were standing in it.

    • golden

      I would add that you probably don’t want Hayes and Fields on the court together, unless you’ve got Lowry, Derozan, and Patterson to absorb the usage deficit on offence. And definitely never Vasquez, Fields and Hayes. Hayes is basically the front-court version of Fields. On a positive note, though, Hayes and Fields are excellent at moving the ball, which is great, but the tradeoff is that opposing defences don’t really need to fully commit a defender to Hayes or Fields.

  • jvuc

    This is another crazy option for Fields. Waive Fields with no stretch provision and eat the cap hit for this current season as if he was on the team. Then use that roster spot (and other free spots) with MLE, trade exceptions and minimums to sign/trade other “better” players for C and wing. And maybe pick up another “gem” from summer league.

    • arsenalist

      I don’t think the Raptors are too stretched for spots. They have 13 guys on the roster right now.

  • BramptonCanadianProspects

    is there any chance we could send him to the D-league just so he could gain back that confidence? i really think he could be a solid piece if he plays like how he did in his rook season. i remember in the beginning of the season last year he was the only one trying to really penetrate the ball and for that Dwane Casey rewarded him with minutes. Landry also showed us how good of a defender he is, but his shooting is just so hard to watch, he doesnt even have the same jumpshot (form) as he did when entering the leauge.

    • arsenalist

      You can’t allocate a veteran to the D-League without his consent. The rule is that only guys with 0-2 years experience can be assigned without their consent. Players with three or more years’ experience can be assigned if player and union consent. I don’t even think the latter part of the rule has ever even been used.

      Besides, sending him to the D-League would shatter his confidence because every guy will be going at him on account of who he is and he is likely to get destroyed.

  • ahoang

    For what Fields brings to the table and the potential seen when he’s healthy, what do you think is a fair assessment on his market value? 3 mil?

    • mountio

      Something like that … $2-$3 mm. Might not seem like a massive difference, but you pay LF and CH what they are worth (ie $2-$3 mm), all of a sudden we have $6-$8 mm in additional cap space, which could mean a pretty material difference to the team …

  • dribbles

    To Masai’s credit, this is the only bad, virtually unmovable contract on the team right now. If BC had gotten his way, Nash’s contract would also be on the books but we can forget about that now.

    It is too bad about about Fields’ health though. I can’t think of too many players who have fallen so hard after a promising rookie season. The combo of that nerve damage and horrible re-structuring of his shooting form just reduced him to a net negative on the court. The team plays 4 on 5 on offence with him out there. All that cutting off the ball, drives to the hoop etc. that he did well goes away when defenders don’t have to respect your shot at all. I’d like to think that if those nerve issues are fixed, the coaches would work with him to go back to his old shooting form, and then you hope the back issues are resolved more or less. Basically the rookie version of Fields is exactly what this team needs right now on the wing, at least before they make a run at Durant or some other big free agent. Definitely rooting for the guy…not his fault he got injured or that BC gave him a dumb contract.

  • The Courthawk

    LF’s biggest impact on the team have been his game 2 performance guarding Double J and that Playstation commercial where he awkwardly played with randoms.

    The execution and role he played in that Sony commercial and his Raps career have been pretty much in synch– lame, but not too bothersome to get too upset at.

  • ayejay

    Trade Landry Feilds with a 2017pick for a decent 4-6mill guy. Perhaps if Carter signs wit mavs, do a sign and trade for him depends how much a year he gets.

  • tonious35

    I’ll take Landry in a Nikki Minaj outfit doing runners, cuts, and passing to more open teammates than post OKC Thunder @ ACC Salmons doing anything positive.

  • calgary_loves_lowry

    i must be missing something – because i am in a complete disagreement with you here, which doesn’t usually happen as i read most of your pieces.

    i watched about 95% of total raptors game-minutes last season, and i have to tell you, everytime i saw fields come on the floor (with the exception of one game) – good things happened. from early on in the season when gay was still ball-hugging and making me regret loving this team, fields was the ONLY guy who would consistently get our offense going with ball movement and quick passing.

    after the trade his minutes went down considerably, but again every time he would step on the floor he’d make a steal, force a tough shot from his man, or make a surprisingly good looking dunk. not to mention he would box out and rebound well with his length.

    “The fear is that he possesses no discernible skill that will allow him to stay on the court…” REALLY? His defence and rebounding for his position alone are skills that should earn him a decent 10-15 mins per game in the NBA. and his passing and off the ball movement are above average as well.

    i remember a game against the magic (i know they’re no giants but they’re still NBA players) last year as we were nearing playoffs, and our starters were a bit jaded and unmotivated. casey gave fields some run, and as soon as he came on he made 2 steals, a dunk, and overall helped the team open a margin that the magic couldn’t come back from.

    in my mind, casey’s greatest crime was playing salmons over fields the entire season, an act i will forever remember and hold against casey. fields STOPPED joe when NOBODY on the raptors could – so how on earth you can say he has no skill to keep him on the floor is beyond me.

    my strong disagreement aside, i’ve been reading raptors republic posts without posting for 2 years now, keep up the great work, love your pieces!

    • jjdynomite

      Dude, I remember that Magic game, where Landry came on and “made 2 steals, a dunk, and overall helped the team.” But that’s ALL HE DID. Sure on a per minute basis that was impressive (vs. the 3rd worst team in the league, mind you), but again, that’s all he did.

      Defensive specialists can work in sports with more players on a team, so as to mask their offensive deficiencies, e.g. late-inning infielder replacements in baseball, or 4th-line checkers in hockey. But on team that only permits 12 active players (b-ball), having a player that offers no offense is a major problem.

      To give some examples, Bruce Bowen was known for his (often dirty) lockdown defense. but he was a highly accurate 3PT shooter (.393), especially from corner 3s, and burned teams that played off him. Conversely, Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder’s attempt to establish a Bowen-lite presence, was benched in the playoffs — when he was needed the most to guard opposition players — because his (long distance) shot disappeared. I’m not saying that Fields could (ever) become a Bruce Bowen, but right now he is firmly in the Thabo playoff camp of uselessness.

    • trav

      Thank you for this its very much the truth I thought I was the only one who saw it like this

    • afrocarter

      I think we can all agree that Fields is a plus on the defensive side of the ball. However, on the offensive end, if he has NO SHOT whatsoever, his defender will be encouraged to essentially become a free safety in the paint and in the passing lanes. He becomes the wing version of Reggie Evans.

      In such a situation, regardless of his passing, rebounding, and cutting prowess, all the positives he brings are effectively negated by a now stagnant offense.

      I assume this is Casey’s thinking, anyway. One or two good games here and there won’t swing the pendulum far enough, I’m afraid. Keep in mind that Coach and his staff see Landry’s play way more often than we do, and thus have a better grasp of what he can and can’t provide on the floor. If Tim & Masai trust Casey’s decision-making, we as fan can do the same, in my opinion.

    • Tuneyain

      I agree 100 percent here, Dwane Casey makes some very strange line up decisions, especially during crucial moments of the game. Playing John Salmons as SG and Novak as a stretch-4 made absolutely no sense during the playoffs against the Nets. Not only did those rotations weaken our defence, the two we’re sometimes the first ones off the bench. He also chose to de-activate Landry for most of the season. Lastly, I think the worst move by Casey during the playoffs was not drawing up more set-plays for Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson in the paint. For some reason Derozan and Lowry decided to force contested shots, while Amir was shooting above 60% at times…and in a mismatch. I feel like Kidd out duelled Casey pretty badly.

      • asifyouknow

        That is an excellent assessment of Casey…glad to see I’m not the only one who understand why they lost the last two games to Nets..

        • Jonas

          OMG he’s back

          • asifyouknow

            Never left my friend.. where have you been…I’m retiring and publishing my own website next year…hope to see you there ….lol

    • arsenalist

      Thanks for the detailed comment. We’re not aligned on how much value Fields provided when he was on the court. I’m inclined to think he was benign most times – i.e., didn’t take bad shots, didn’t hog the ball, didn’t turn the ball over – but at the same time, didn’t exactly do anything either other than not get in the way of others.

      The “discernible skill” comment was related to his offense – I just don’t think he provides enough of a consistent threat of any sort on offense to warrant inclusion as a sixth man. We disagree here. You can point to a game here and game there for any player (well, other than Dwight Buycks), but the point of the post is whether he’s a solid sixth man off the bench spelling whoever the starting SF will be. That is very much debatable given his inconsistencies (albeit some caused by injury). Personally, I think a wing player who can’t shoot is a liability which the rest of the Raptors unit can’t afford to have, and you have to work hard to hide that like I said in the post with examples of lineups.

      There are guys who get a steal here and there, make a block, etc., those guys fall in the category of players best suited for situational, matchup-driven roles, e.g., Antoine Wright typish player if you’re looking for a Raptors example. I don’t think Fields is quite as bad but he’s not a first-choice backup either. Probably somewhere in between. I do agree with you that Fields should have taken minutes away from Salmons last season, specifically in the Nets series but that speaks again to the point I made about the coach. It’s very easy to pick John Salmons because in Casey’s mind he’s, at the very least, spreading the floor and keeping things from being congested for Lowry and DeRozan’s drive-games. Fields can’t do that, which forces Casey to get creative in how to utilize Fields and I just don’t think that that’s a priority for Casey.

      TL;DR: I think you’re being very selective in your memories of Fields, but I do agree that he’s not as bad as he’s looked over the last two years.

    • Geer

      Preach. My thoughts exactly. I been on coach side from jump. But not playing Landry makes me upset. Guys is too crafty to be ignored.

  • DanH

    Big fan of Fields. He’s the answer for our backup SF. Fits so, so well with our 2nd unit (GV, Williams, Patterson).

  • leftovercrack

    Everyone talks about Fields as the backup SF, but it seems to me that to some extent we still need a starting SF. DeRozan and TRoss are best suited to SG because of their size, as is Lou Williams. The best scenario would be to have Demar starting at SG, someone acquired or Fields with his shot back, starting at SF and Ross getting heavy minutes as a third wing off the bench

  • Bryan Colangelo

    I have nothing against Landry Field’s personally, but his only value now is that his contract is expiring during a year were people might be looking to dump salary. That’s it.

    Otherwise, would you even sign Fields at the veteran minimum? Would you be able to get a second round pick for him?
    I can’t think of a coach in this league that would be able to play him more than 10 minutes in their system.

  • Ion66

    The only back spasms that I can recall from last year, came a day after crashing hard (back first) into the seats, to keep a ball alive against the Nets. What other back issues did he have during the season? I also remember many of us wondering why Casey didn’t play him at one point (I think during a bad stretch for Salmons), only to find out that he had a bad flu. When we don’t even find out that he’s basically on the DL, I found it hard to figure why he didn’t get more playing time. If they would consider actually playing him, as Lionel Ritchie…..I would pay extra to watch that, although I’m not certain that dancing on the ceiling is a transferable NBA skill. Just saying…based on a few video’s…if anyone can re-invent themselves….it’s Fields.

  • HQ

    use fields as that “defensive wing” and sign a big man (Y)

  • Alex Vostrikov

    who ever thinks that fields is a write off, or a screen door on a submarine, is an idiot… I apologize for the comment, as I really enjoy reading MOST of your blogs…. minus this one.
    casey is not a genius in any way, and by benching LF over salmons there is no doubt he is far from one. to many things clicked well, and made casey look good. salmons was a ball hog, and MUCH worse than any sf in the league.
    did Johnson killed raps in the playoffs? don’t think so….. raps had an answer for him, or at least for 10 min a night, which fields more than capable and should get. even in all of the offensive sets, he was the one player who constantly moved and made chaos on the opposition. even if he lost his shooting touch, he still had to many things to offer.
    than again, when he saw half of his minutes at PF, what do you expect?

    • Tee

      100% correct
      he also has the highest basketball IQ on the team

      so sad
      Casey is like the players; he has a lot of improving to do.

  • Jamshid

    “At 26 years of age, he still has one shot to get it right. Let’s hope he takes it.”
    Does anyone know if he in gym these days ? Is he working with a shooting coach? What is he doing during the summer to improve his game ?

    At some point, it all comes back to you and how much work you want to put into it. I am hoping he is working hard this summer and not taking a break because lets face it, taking a break from what ?? Sitting on bench for two years and walking to bank collecting a massive cheque.

  • Yiga Phuntsok

    imo we’re paying the guy a lot of money we might as well use him, I think he’s a great second line 3 when healthy and with offensive minded guys like vasquez and williams on the second line we might be able to hide him well offensively. Unless the great masai can trade him (which seems impossible but i wouldn’t be too shocked) I think we might as well take advantage of his defensive abilities and fill the need at 3 we have

  • BraLLer

    This guy already had his last shot.

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  • Truth Teller

    He has “no shot” figuratively and literally.

  • higdale

    The raptors are a jump shooting team and they have reloaded with the same core from last year. As much as I appreciate Fields’ overall game and his off the ball skill set at the end of the day the raptors are still a jump shooting team. Fields didn’t figure in the system last year and won’t this year in this perimeter based offense. The assist come from pick downs for jumpers, pick and pop for jumpers, swing the ball around for an open jumper, take two dribbles and shoot a jumper. it’s not designed for ball movement to look for cutters or run two man games rolling to the basket. The current core players are jump shooters before anything else. Teams don’t have to worry about the raptors always pushing the ball for easy shots, or having to worry about ball movement going to the basket or worry that their man will be cutting back door if they turn their head the players don’t look for those kinds of assist Just look at who shoots the majority of the free throws. It’s certainly not players who receive a pass while cutting to the basket. Fields is a much better player when there’s a lot of motion with decisions being made of the fly. If he was in a system where a lot of the shots came closer to the basket because of a lot of ball movement and cutting with players looking for that I would think he’d have more success and it would bring his confidence up to take open shots because he’d only have to hit a few provided he got on the floor in the first place but that’s not the current system, Casey or the core player’s mentality who are shooters before they are anything else. Before the first Gay trade and Jose was running the point the raptors had ball movement and Fields and Ed Davis benefited. Gay comes and the ball sticks then the second Gay trade happens and now with the Sac players you got more players who play on the perimeter and the offense goes east and west and rarely diagonally. Salmons is a perimeter player who fit the system’s DNA so he played before Fields even when Fields was good enough to start and play ahead of him when Ross sprained his ankle but not good enough to get any of his minutes even during that terrible stretch Salmons had including the OKC game. Was Fields’ contract the right move for the raptors as things have turned out of course not and they are going to get rid of it it’s just a matter of time even if Fields heals up and his shot comes back Casey won’t play him because he doesn’t appreciate his game. The best case for Fields would be if he healed up enough to get out of Toronto and/or ends up with a team that plays defense with lots of ball movement aimed at getting more shots closer to the rim. His days in Toronto are numbered and it’s unfortunate because he is a smart solid player but he won’t get on the court enough with Casey or this offense. if he was so bad why didn’t they just deactivate him before the playoffs especially since his defense on Joe Johnson in the second nets playoff game with 4 rebounds 1 assist 2 steals and 1 block in 17 min effected the outcome game even without him taking a shot. I think he plays the game the ways it’s suppose to be played he has an old school game. I hope he gets healed and gets another chance with another team because he can help teams win when given enough time on the floor as he has showed and is the kind of person teams wouldn’t mind having in their organization. So good luck Landry.

    And you have to wonder if all of the good things that were out of the raptors control that fell into their lap this season be the norm next year and will the East be as bad as it was this past season. Will the jump shooting offense have as many open or uncontested shots as this past season and will Casey’s coaching abilities be able to adjust . Because as good as the raptors were this past season had they been in the west they would have been the 9th seed and out of the playoff picture.

  • tonious35

    Maybe Fields will get the Masai and TL meeting like Kyle Lowry: “hey mister Fields, I know you have been singing around these shows and dressing like booty-woman. Everybody thinks you are an injury wreck that is a waste of money and stopping us from getting a good free agent. How about you find a way to work a jump shot and be a more reliable player, so you can still be a decent NBA player to support your wife and kid.”

  • thatsarap!

    Not reading any further into the situation than the Raptors being appropriately patient with a player who had a an important surgery. Their patience will pay dividends. Landry has all the right qualities to be a Raptor.