Coming into Tuesday morning, the Toronto Raptors had done everything imaginable to convince Steve Nash that they wanted him.
You’ll recall, they offered him a three-year, $36 million contract, assured him that he would have a prominent role with the organization after his playing days were over, and pledged to improve the roster around him with capable roleplayers.
But the Raptors weren’t done there.
Not content with simply wooing Nash, the front office powers that be committed an act today that may go down as the most hilarious bit of free agency sportsmanship we've seen in years.
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What did they do? Well, they offered the New York Knicks’ restricted free agent shooting guard, Landry Fields, a three-year, $20 million offer sheet.
Via Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated:
Beyond Toronto's desire to add the 24-year-old Fields to its backcourt, sources say the move was intended to keep New York from nabbing Nash. The Knicks were known to be considering sign-and-trade options involving Fields and Nash's former team, the Suns, as a way to pay Nash more than the $3 million mid-level exception. But because of the Raptors' offer sheet, the Knicks can no longer use Fields in such a scenario. New York will now have three days to match the offer after Fields signs it on July 11. If the Knicks match, they lose the option to trade Fields.
Over the course of his career, Fields’ production has been sporadic. He gained some loyal followers back during his rookie days with New York, but he’s never really lived up to the glimpses of potential he showed back then. Sure, he can theoretically stretch the floor, but it still feels as though he’s consistently been one of the league’s more overrated players. (His +/- is great, though, if you're into that sort of thing.)
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Giving him the sort of deal Toronto gave him is completely and totally ludicrous.
Unless you’re doing it to lock up Nash, of course. If you’re doing it to lock up Nash – the move is a stroke of genius.
Say what you will about Nash being old and having a history of back problems, but what other prospects does Toronto have in terms of improving? Which big name superstar outside of Nash would legitimately consider heading north, no matter how much he was offered?
The truth is, even at 38, Nash was still one of the NBA’s premiere point guards last year. He’ll definitely be an impact player next season – hence the Knicks and Raptors showing so much interest in him over the past week.
Will this latest power play lock up Nash-to-Toronto? We’ll find out soon enough. In the mean time, though, it should be applauded for its sheer hilariousness.
Note: And make sure to tune in to The Bottom Line Sports Show as they discuss all the latest NBA rumors and trade gossip. Plus, check them out on July 26 when Nas (yes, that one) stops by for an interview.