Landry Fields joined the Toronto Raptors in the summer of 2012, when he gleefully signed an offer sheet which the New York Knicks declined to match. Nobody’s fool, the Stanford University graduate was thrilled that his modest skills were suddenly so much in demand, and at such a high price. Landry grabbed Bryan Colangelo’s 3-year, $18+M offer, which is a generous spike in pay and status for the former second round pick. Clearly the Knicks miss Fields dearly – this season, their winning percentage is a measly 63.3, while last year they finished at a crisp 54.5. Oh wait…
The small forward position, which Landry was brought on board to fill, has been a disaster for the Raps for years. Our high hopes for Fields were quickly dashed in the season’s early going, when he suddenly couldn’t make uncontested layups. Landry underwent an operation to re-route a nerve in his shooting arm. Following a long period of recovery, Landry has appeared in 31 games.
If his arm is improved as a result of the surgery, it’s hellish hard to notice. His shooting percentage appears respectable at 45.6, but that’s because his jump shot is so broken that he rarely tries any shot deeper than about 10 feet from the basket. The bulk of his woefully small number of baskets have occurred on slam dunks off fast breaks, or when he presents under the hoop for a pass. Landry has made 1 (one) 3-point basket this season, in 12 attempts. In his rookie season, he averaged more than one a game. Actually, in almost every stat category you care to name, Landry’s first year was his best. We bought a declining asset at the top of the market. If Bryan Colangelo tried that in any other field of endeavor, he and his bespoke suits would be out looking for work in very short order. Landry’s failure has already severely impacted the Raps. Despite BC’s irrational love for Rudy Gay’s erratic talents, it’s hard to imagine he would have traded Jose Calderon and a rapidly improving Ed Davis for Mr. Big Shot if our starting small forward had been giving us 12 points and 7 boards per game.
Once the Raps are officially eliminated from the playoff race, I expect to see considerable shake-up in the rotation. Landry, who is an afterthought currently, may be dusted off and put on display as a starter to prospective trade partners. I suspect some Raps fans want to give Landry the off-season to fully recover, but not me. I’d rather sift through the inexpensive eager beavers in the D-League than pony up big dollars to this guy.
Landry isn’t this season’s biggest disappointment. That anti-honorific is firmly affixed on Andrea Bargnani’s forehead with a giant yellow Post-It note, and won’t get displaced unless AB somehow contrives to average 26 points and 7 rebounds in our remaining games. But Landry is another supposedly brilliant Colangelo gambit which has failed, and from which there’s no easy exit.
During the pre-trade-deadline frenzy, I called for AB & Landry to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol. Let’s hope that deal can take place in the off-season.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.