The Raptors took their already-aggressive push to land free-agent point guard Steve Nash to the next level Tuesday, agreeing to an offer sheet with Knicks restricted free agent shooting guard Landry Fields. The offer is for about $20 million over three years.
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.
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Though the Knicks' chances of landing Nash seem slim, sources say they may still be able to complete a deal if they're willing to include 22-year-old guard and defensive specialist Iman Shumpert, the No. 17 pick in the 2011 draft. The Suns, which passed up a chance to draft Shumpert by taking Markieff Morris at No. 13 last year, are known to think very highly of him. But such a move appears unlikely for a team that has built a defensive mentality under coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks seem to view Shumpert as a major part of their core rotation after he returns from the ACL tear he sustained in the playoffs.
Shumpert is owed $1.6 million for next season, meaning he would have to be traded to Phoenix with numerous other players in order for the Knicks' offer to be competitive with Toronto's. Among the possibilities are Toney Douglas ($2 million for next season), Dan Gadzuric ($1.3 million), Josh Harrellson ($762,000) and Jerome Jordan ($762,000). Beyond Nash, the Knicks still hope to re-sign restricted free agent point guard Jeremy Lin.