Landry Fields knows a failed bid for Steve Nash may be what brought him to Toronto.
But the Raptors newcomer said he never saw the manner of his acquisition as an insult, and rather than dwell on the roller-coaster route that brought him to town, he plans to make the most of his new NBA home.
“I’m happy to be here, I’m reaping all the benefits from it, so I didn’t really take any kind of offence to it at all,” Fields said Wednesday. “I think this is where I need to be, and I’m happy to be here and do whatever the coaches and this organization needs me to do.”
The 24-year-old former Stanford star was caught in a middle of a fierce battle for Nash in the off-season, targeted initially because the New York Knicks planned to use him as a piece of a sign-and-trade deal to lure the Canadian point guard to New York. The Raptors signed Fields to an offer sheet that the Knicks opted not to match.
Fields’ contract will pay him about US$20 million over three seasons — a considerable sum perhaps for a player who struggled mightily in his sophomore season.
But the six-foot-seven, 216-pound player said his hefty contract hasn’t heaped any added pressure on his shoulders.
“Not really,” Fields said. “Honestly with the guys and the coaching staff, they haven’t put any of that kind of pressure on me and I haven’t felt any at all either so I’m going to maintain this attitude throughout the season.”
The Long Beach, Calif., native has been in Toronto for about two weeks, working out with his new teammates in daily informal sessions prior to next week’s training camp in Halifax.
One of his first official team duties was to make a few home deliveries to lucky season-ticket holders Wednesday.
Fields turned heads in his rookie season in the NBA, going from being an unheralded second-round pick to a starting guard with the playoff-bound Knicks. He capped the season with a selection to the league’s all-rookie team.
Fields’ shooting accuracy dropped off dramatically in his second year in the league, his three-point percentage falling to a lowly 25.6 per cent.
“Just growing as a player, you’re going to go through some of those valleys, just kind of how it came to be,” Fields said on his second-year slump. “I was kind of a surprise that first year, and then everybody kind of hunkered down, my game changed a little bit and a lot of things off the court changed.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, it just kind of what it was, I’m glad I went through that, it’s made me a better player today and a better person.”
Fields said he learned from his second-season struggles.
“You’ve just got to push through,” he said. “This season is so long, there are so many games, you can’t get hung up on one play or one game, you’ve got to have a short-term memory.”
Fields, who’s averaged 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 148 games over two seasons, said having a couple of weeks of getting to know his new teammates are invaluable before the real work starts next week.
“They’re really big, I’m a newcomer, there’s some guys that have been awhile now with this team so I’m trying to get acclimated,” he said. “So mainly it’s trying to fit into the system and starting to build this team chemistry we’re going to need throughout a long season.”
The Raptors will hold their annual media day Monday at the Air Canada Centre before flying to Halifax for camp which wraps up a week Saturday with a scrimmage that’s open to the public.
Fields is one of several key newcomers to join the Raptors in the off-season. Other significant additions include Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross.
Fields, who said he’s equally happy playing shooting guard or small forward, said so many new faces will make for fierce competition at training camp.
“Which is going to be great, because that’s what’s going to get us ready for the season,” he said. “And hopefully during the season, through that competitiveness in practice we’ll be pushed over the edge to get into the playoffs.”
The Raptors open the pre-season against visiting Real Madrid on Oct. 8.
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