Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Contract Status of Landry Fields (2/13/12 Update)

Apparently, it is too soon to tell for sure what the deal is with Jeremy Lin’s “Early Bird rights,” as there is essentially no accepted answer as of yet as to whether Lin being waived by the Golden State Warriors re-set his Bird Rights or whether they transferred to the Knicks when Lin was claimed on waivers by the Knicks (after first being claimed on waivers by the Houston Rockets and subsequently waived).

Noted NBA Salary Cap expert Larry Coon has this to say in his Salary Cap FAQ:

If a player is waived and is claimed by another team before he clears waivers, then his Bird clock resets.

I wrote this piece based on that position.

Coon then refuted that position, so I changed the piece because I trusted Coon.

He had this to say on February 11th on Twitter:

A waiver claim is changing team by assignment, so he should be Early Bird, and the people I’ve talked to agree. But I haven’t heard an official ruling from the league on this, so I’m not 100% yet. It’s possible this hasn’t come up yet, and they have yet to make an official determination. I hope to find out for sure soon. EDITED TO ADD: And now we know! Click here to see what Lin’s contract status is.

In other words, we don’t know the answer yet. Don’t let anyone fool you who is giving you a definitive answer right now. No one knows for sure at the moment. So rather than me just edit and re-edit the piece until we know the real answer, let’s just hold off on the Lin discussion for the moment.

Meanwhile, what we do know is Landry Fields’ situation. So let’s talk about that for now. Landy Fields is on the second year of a two-year contract paying him roughly $800,000 a year. Fields will be a free agents at the end of this season.

Before I discuss anything, note that the Knicks are over the salary cap for next season but will not be at the luxury tax level. Therefore, they will have both the Bi-Annual Exception (roughly $2 million) and the full mid-level (roughly $5 million) as exceptions (on top of the ability to pay any free agent the minimum salary for that player, which is how they signed Baron Davis and Mike Bibby).

Fields is eligible for the so-called “Early Bird Exception.”

As an Early Bird player, Fields can be offered a contract that starts at 175% of his current salary or anything up to the average NBA salary (which is roughly $5 million). They can pay Fields this money without affecting their mid-level exception. However, if Fields just signs a one year deal for anything up to the average salary, then the following season the Knicks will have his full Bird Rights and then can re-sign him to a salary larger than the average salary. It really depends on how well Fields plays the rest of the year to determine what kind of deal he signs.

Other teams can still try to snatch Fields and Lin away from the Knicks, though. Both Fields and Lin are technically restricted free agents. However, due to the so-called “Gilbert Arenas provision,” other teams are limited in what they can offer Fields and Lin. They can only offer them up to the full mid-level. So the Knicks would be able to match any offers for Fields without touching their precious mid-level exception, which they hope to use to attract a notable free agent to come play for the team next year (the Knicks would also keep their Bi-Annual Exception available for a possible other free agent). Whether they can do the same for Lin depends on the decision regarding his Early Bird status. Something we don’t know at this point in time.

So, as things stand, Fields ia pretty much guaranteed to be Knicks next season if the Knicks want him(which they certainly seem to). Lin they likely could keep, as well, but it might take their full mid-level to do so. We shall see what happens with his Early Bird status. I will put up a new post when Coon gets a definitive answer on the topic.

Thanks to the man, the myth, the legend Larry Coon and his Salary Cap FAQ for the ground rules of this discussion. Read them for some other tricky stuff about the Gilbert Arenas provision that have not, to my knowledge, ever come up before so I didn’t address them but I guess they could (like how a team can backload a contract for a player like Fields so that the overall deal could be 4 years/$40 million).

31 comments on “The Contract Status of Landry Fields (2/13/12 Update)

  1. TheRant

    Interesting to read. Thanks.

    I would love to keep both Lin and Fields, as we will need young and maturing talent and they are proving themselves nicely.

    I’m really surprised Nash is still in the discussion. I know he just played great on his 38th birthday and seems ageless right now. But we don’t need yet another fading veteran. The same day Nash was seeming immortal, Billups was watching his season (and perhaps his career) come to a close.

    It just isn’t practical to be relying on someone over 35 to run the point, since our frontcourt will take a year or two to develop its chemistry.

  2. Brian Cronin

    Steve Nash has a 57.7% Assist Rate right now. 57.7%!! His TS% is .646. His eFG is .615! .615 from an outside shooter! He’s shooting 45% from three! He is having an outstanding season. Yes, he is old, but he is just as great as he ever was and I doubt he’ll have any major drop off next season. Now the year after that, maybe. But holy crap is he good right now.

  3. villainx

    Can the Knicks sign and trade with Fields? and what’s the impact on that? Has Fields played to a level that he’s a definite keeper?

    I guess pre Melo Fields looked awesome. But he’s been searching for his game/role. Searching for quite a long time.

    Or I guess I could be really off track with regards to Fields.

  4. EB

    So what I got from this is that if we really want to keep Lin we can no matter what. Is that right? and if it is thats awesome

  5. Brian Cronin

    Yes, if they want to keep him, there’s no way they can be kept from keeping him. The only way he’d be lost is if he is priced past what they’re willing to pay. And the key word there is “willing.” It would be their choice.

  6. Tony Pena

    EB- it looks like at a price. If he continues to play really really well for the rest of the year, they’re going to have to pay him out of the teams’ mid-level exception, and so dipping into the money for other free agents.

    Brian, thanks for the clarity, much needed. I haven’t been this excited about the Knicks since this past draft. I guess the best case scenario team-wise would be for Baron to come back, and Lin moves into the back-up pg slot but continues to play well for the rest of the year. This way his stats don’t blow up like crazy and we can sign him to the Bi-Annual. Then he can take full reign of the team next year.

  7. Ben R

    Why would we trade Fields? He is playing really good basketball right now. He was great pretrade and the combination of a very different team and style post Melo, the rookie wall, and no real training camp this year caused him to struggle but he seems to have figured it out and is playing very well right now.

  8. BigBlueAL

    I would love to sign Nash next season and have Lin be his backup. Should be great for Lin to learn from the master.

  9. Brian Cronin

    I would love to sign Nash next season and have Lin be his backup. Should be great for Lin to learn from the master.

    How amazing would that be? Nash has never had a backup that was like Nash (he’s always played with change of pace PGs such as scorers like Barbosa and Dragic or just plain ol’ bad players like Banks and Telfair). The lineup might never skip a beat!

  10. Spree8nyk8

    Great article, had a lot of questions that have been answered thanks :)

    Personally, I’d kinda like us to just develop this kid, I mean I know the allure of bringing in Nash is hard to pass on. But he could be a special kind of player and he is the type of player that is just fun to root for. If he doesn’t hold this level of play I understand if they have to go a different direction, but I’m really hoping he does and we just lock this kid up.

  11. ess-dog

    I think we’re ignoring the fact that Nash is worth way more than the mid level. I’m not sure who has the room but a 2 year 20 mil deal makes more sense. Harrington practically got the mid level! If he’s the real deal, which it looks like he is, we need to keep Lin.

  12. Aharon

    Could a team under the cap theoretically pay Lin more than the mid-level (in which case we could lose him even if we wanted to pay him the full mid-level)?

  13. Bruno Almeida

    @12

    Nash would only accept the mid level if it gave him a clear shot at a title… in my opinion, he’s obviously worth more than that (maybe MUCH more), but what contender needs a PG and has more than the MLE to offer?

    Miami and LA are the only true contenders that need a PG, and they too have no cap space… Orlando might be an option, but they’re such a mess until Dwight’s situation is sorted out, and everyone else has good PGs already.

    unless he wants to take a flier on an unproven team (a Blazers, Pacers kind of team), his options will be restricted to accepting the mid level to go for a title.

  14. Brian Cronin

    Could a team under the cap theoretically pay Lin more than the mid-level (in which case we could lose him even if we wanted to pay him the full mid-level)?

    No. That’s what the “Gilbert Arenas provision” is designed to avoid. In addition, it also assures first round draft picks that second round draft picks will never get to exceed the mid-level before them (as it was kind of weird for first round draft picks to watch Carlos Boozer and Gilbert Arenas strike it rich while they were stuck in their first rounder pay scale).

  15. Mulligan

    Wait, even though Lin doesn’t qualify for the Early-Bird Exception, isn’t he a restricted free agent because he’s a veteran who has played less than 3 years in the league?

    From the Salary Cap FAQ:

    “Restricted free agency exists only on a limited basis. It is allowed following the fourth year of rookie “scale” contracts for first round draft picks (see question number 42). It is also allowed for all veteran free agents who have been in the league three or fewer seasons.”

  16. Brian Cronin

    Yes, he is a restricted free agent. As I said:

    Both Fields and Lin are technically restricted free agents.

    Lin’s a restricted free agent, but he cannot be offered more than the mid-level by any other team (the “Gilber Arenas provision”). However, if he is offered more than the Bi-Annual Exception in an offer sheet from another team, the Knicks would have to use part of the mid-level exception (possibly the entire thing, depending on the offer) to match the offer sheet.

  17. Mulligan

    Ah, this cap stuff is not my forte. Could have sworn I read that if he’s a restricted free agent he’s only eligible for option 1 (120% of salary) not the other 2. Can navigate the FAQ on my iPhone so I guess I’ll have to check later…

  18. Brian Cronin

    What Hahn says is, in general, correct. However, he is not describing “Bird Rights” there. He is accurately describing Lin’s current Non-Bird Free Agent status. The Knicks can make Lin a restricted free agent by giving him the qualifying offer Hahn mentioned. However, they do not yet have his Bird Rights (or Early Bird Rights). You have to play for a team for two years to have Early Bird Rights. Bird Rights can travel via trade, but they expire when a player is waived. Lin has been waived twice.

  19. Brian Cronin

    Here is the appropriate part of Coon’s FAQ:

    If a player is waived and is claimed by another team before he clears waivers, then his Bird clock resets.

    Lin has been waived twice. Thus, his Bird Right toll began this year with the Knicks. He needs another year for Early Bird status and two more for full Bird Rights.

  20. villainx

    Ben R:
    Why would we trade Fields? He is playing really good basketball right now. He was great pretrade and the combination of a very different team and style post Melo, the rookie wall, and no real training camp this year caused him to struggle but he seems to have figured it out and is playing very well right now.

    I hope that’s true regarding Fields. I’m always a booster for homegrown. But quick scan of Fields is that he does a bunch of things in the average to slightly above average range. Very valuable, but I guess if Shump progresses and the Knicks has a competent PG (with Lin), then some of that value is mitigated.

    Best case is Fields put my doubt to rest by just helping the team win. Or steps up whatever aspect of his game that needs stepping up.

  21. Jim Cavan

    Great stuff, Brian! We should start a campaign advocating Fields and Lin be roommates forever. After all, splitting rent will mean both can take a pay cut next year, right?….RIGHT?

  22. Brian Cronin

    That’s not what I’m worried about, though. I’m worried that he plays well enough for another team to offer him, say, $3 or 4 million a year. In which case the Knicks would not be able to match the offer and sign Nash. Obviously you’d sign Nash, as he is amazing, but it would still suck to lose Lin.

    And what if Nash drags his feet while another team makes Lin the offer early in the free agent period. They might be in a position where they let Lin go and then also lose Nash.

  23. ROUGH

    Brian Cronin:
    …And what if Nash drags his feet while another team makes Lin the offer early in the free agent period. They might be in a position where they let Lin go and then also lose Nash.

    This looks like the Knicks, doesn’t it? :)))

  24. max fisher-cohen

    Great article, Brian. Several times i have gone over to Larry Coon’s FAQ, and several times I have thought, “too much work!” The Arenas thing is particularly confusing, and you explained it well.

    I do wonder in regard to Nash whether he will be traded before the deadline. Phoenix is currently 3 games out of the playoff race, and there’s really no prospect of them getting better. They’ve been healthy. They just have a weak roster. They must know Nash is not going to come back and play for them next year, so they might as well bite the bullet.

    The question is, will they ask him where he wants to go, then trade him for peanuts, or will they sell him to the highest bidder? Nash has been so good to that franchise, so you’d think the former (they could just buy him out, even), in which case I could absolutely see him ending up with New York since he loves the city and MDA’s style. However, I think we’d be on the outside looking in in any trade.

  25. max fisher-cohen

    Brian Cronin:
    What Hahn says is, in general, correct. However, he is not describing “Bird Rights” there.

    I think even though it’s called the “non-bird exception” it’s still technically part of the provision of rights that are designed to allow teams to keep their own players. Those rights are all called Bird rights as per Coon: “Non-Bird really is a form of Bird rights.” Great usage of terminology there by the NBA.

  26. adwotw

    can you let us know how you confirmed Lin’s early bird status? The language in the cba seems to indicate he is not early bird.

    “Early Qualifying Veteran Free Agent” means a Veteran Free Agent who, prior to becoming a Veteran Free Agent, played under one or more Player Contracts covering some or all of each of the two (2) preceding Seasons, and who either exclusively played with his Prior Team during such two Seasons, or, if he played for more than one Team during such period, changed Teams _only_ (i) by means of trade, or (ii) by signing with his Prior Team during the first of the two (2) Seasons.

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