The Toronto Raptors shocked the world when they went out and won the 2019 NBA Championship. Point guard Kyle Lowry was a foundational member of that title-winning group, and for that alone he will forever go down in franchise lore.
That being said – certain realities make Lowry getting traded sooner rather than later something of an inevitability. The 34-year-old is heading into a 2020-21 campaign that will pay him $30 million. After that, he comes off the books.
If the Raptors truly believe they are a contender for Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency, as has been reported, then they need to clear cap space.
Should Antetokounmpo re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks or go elsewhere, the organization would still rather build around its young players like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.
According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, a deal centering around Lowry would make sense for any one of a number of contenders. Specifically he highlighted the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers as legitimate suitors.
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“Imagine, for instance, a deal with Brooklyn that swapped Lowry for Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen,” he wrote.
“Or Denver for Gary Harris, Will Barton and picks. Or similar-type deals with the Sixers or Heat. (The Lakers, Bucks and Clippers, sadly, probably can’t get in on this with the hard cap and Lowry’s $30 million number).”
In 2019-20 Lowry averaged 19.4 points and 7.5 assists per outing, while shooting 42 percent from the field, 80 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent from behind the arc. He would serve as an immediate upgrade at guard for the Nets, Heat or Sixers, and frankly would be better utilized on squad that will legitimately compete for a title.
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Now to be fair, the Raptors came within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Nobody can take that away from them. But with the way the Boston Celtics, Bucks, Heat and Sixers have improved, it is hard to see that happening again.
The Raptors’ offseason strategy seems more reliant on hoping its young players like Siakam improve over going out and signing meaningful free agents. Alex Len and Aron Baynes are both solid pick-ups, but neither one figures to take Toronto to the top of the East.
As such, it’s far more likely that the Raptors will take a step back next season than step forward.
If that ends up happening, then getting rid of Lowry while the franchise can get something for him might make a lot of sense.