Raptors

Lack of Lowry Interest Proving to Be Poor Decision

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The availability of Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline was no secret.

The team wasn’t going to just send him packing, but if there was a good mixture of value and his preferences, they were going to take it. You don’t just jettison a franchise icon, but you want to give him a chance to win. The Raptors weren’t able to find a deal for him despite multiple teams being interested, reportedly because most teams balked at the asking price. Let’s see how they’re doing now!

Miami Heat

The Sticking Point

The Heat wanted to make the offer Goran Dragic and the RFA to be, Duncan Robinson. The Raptors wanted Tyler Herro. Herro was the sticking point, per SI, and the two sides never really found a deal, despite speculation that they could have found something involving Precious Achiuwa.

How It’s Going

So, that didn’t end well. They lacked shot creation and playmaking (Lowry is 5th in active assists). Tyler Herro was inefficient while playing poor defense, and Bam Adebayo struggled as their primary offensive hub.

Sure seems like they could have used an injection of All-Star talent and playmaking!

Heat fans will console themselves that Herro will (probably) be better next year, that he’s only 21, and that Bam is only 23. Surface level, they’re right! Their leading playoff scorer is 34, however, and doesn’t start in the regular season. Their best player is in his 30’s, and played for Tom Thibodeau for eight of those seasons.

Jimmy Butler‘s window isn’t forever, and it would probably have been smart to capitalize on adding talent while you have him. Maybe Herro turns into a young Klay Thompson and they’re happy they held onto him! But those far-off comforts probably don’t matter to the players on the team that just got swept.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Sticking Point

Despite some (including this writer) believing the Lakers didn’t have enough, they were engaged in talks late into the season. The offer would have required Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for salary matching, and the Raptors wanted to get Talen Horton-Tucker in the deal. Rob Pelinka considered that too high a price to pay, per The Athletic (subscription required), as the Lakers were high on the young swingman. Plus, they already had Schroder, so they weren’t exactly lacking in shot creation from the guard spot, right?

How It’s Going

Just the first ever loss in the first round for LeBron!

Now, let’s be reasonable. Part of why they lost is the injuries to their stars, especially when they rushed Anthony Davis back (which they probably wouldn’t have had to do if they had a third All-Star). They had absolutely nobody to check Devin Booker, which Lowry would have helped, but Lowry isn’t stopping Booker by himself. AD getting played even by Deandre Ayton didn’t help.

But man, is it hard to see this series and not think it came down to point-guard play. Davis was creating 30% of his 2s while Ayton was getting the ball right at the rim. LeBron had to create everything on offense because no guard could. And Dennis Schroder? The man who turned down $84 million at the start of the season?

Oh boy.

Maybe he was overburdened, but Dennis was just terrible in this Phoenix series. 9/36 in the final three games, with seven total assists. I don’t know that they would have won the series with Kyle instead of Dennis, but I do know that 196 minutes of Kyle Lowry is way more valuable than 196 minutes of whatever Dennis was doing, even just on the offensive end. That’s not counting how much better a defender Kyle is!

And Talen Horton-Tucker, the sticking point? 10th in minutes on the Lakers in the playoffs. Maybe he could develop, and in four years, become another Jae Crowder. Crowder is good! That’s a useful player to have! LeBron will be 40 by then. You know the old saying, “If you have one of the five greatest players of all time during the last effective years of his career, you should pass on adding an All-Star to keep a mildly promising second-round pick!”

The Clippers

The Sticking Point

The money, and the draft cupboard. The Clippers needed to get to roughly $25 million to make the trade work, and they just don’t have a lot of the mid-range salary guys you need to make these types of trades happen. Sam Presti owns roughly 125% of their future draft picks. This was the destination that always felt the least likely. They could have cobbled something out of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Patrick Patterson and Terance Mann, but it’s unlikely they could have really attracted the Raptors.

How It’s Going

Medium? The Clippers are in the conference finals despite Kawhi’s injury, and are here in part because Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann have been critical. The Clippers are getting the guard production they need out of those two, while Paul George is playing elite basketball on both ends of the floor. Is it sustainable? I’m not sure. Leaning on those two- with some dashes of Rondo- feels rickety. I can’t say that I trust Reggie Jackson to stay a 50/40/90 guy on his shot volume, but he can be an effective scorer. Terrence Mann as your sixth man is not a comforting proposition. Kyle Lowry feels like he’d be a great stabilizer for a team missing Kawhi, but it’s hard to really criticize them giving their lack of assets and how they’ve looked so far. This is the team that deserves the least criticism.

The Sixers

The Sticking Point

The total asking price. Per Brian Windhorst, the asking price was all of the following: Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, this year’s first-round pick, and their 2023 first. It’s unclear if it was the draft-pick compensation that made them balk, or the players involved.

It is clear, however, that they were unwilling to surrender all of those assets. Honestly, It makes sense to value those medium-level commodities. Those are the lifeblood of a team! It’s not like Philadelphia is some bizarre basketball land that doesn’t value good but not great assets. Shipping out four good assets for one veteran all-star player? That’d be crazy, that’d be up there with some fever-dream fantasy like throwing away every single good player away for a decade to get more shots at landing a great one!

And then idolizing the fired GM who did that, even though he couldn’t hire a competent medical staff and every single key Sixers player has had mysterious medical issues! No, Philly is a city that appreciates a good player, thank you very much.

How It’s Going

Tyrese Maxey & Matisse Thybulle, the two players who were integral to holding up the deal, weren’t starters. In a Game 7, the Sixers started a 30-year-old journeyman with a career average of ten points a game, and 23-year-old bench guard. You can point out that Furkan Korkmaz is only starting because Danny Green is hurt, but there’s no world where you’d rather have Green or Curry over Lowry.

One of the 76ers’ biggest issues has been getting Embiid rest. Embiid’s playoff +/- going into Game 7 was +20.9. Howard, his primary backup, was -20.3. Lowry and the bench units have been successful his entire career.

Trae Young and Lou Williams are both 6’1 and 175-180 pounds. The fact that the Sixers weren’t able to punish them is reprehensible, but what are you supposed to do with this roster? Which guard are you going to attack them with? Because if you’re giving 20-25 possessions a game to George Hill and Seth Curry pick-and-rolls? Yikes. And if you can’t hunt Trae or Lou on defense, you can’t hunt guards on defense period.

Their first-round opponent started Raul Neto and Alex Len on purpose. The Hawks are better than the Jokic-less Nuggets? Maybe? And the Suns had to deal with LeBron and a couple games of Anthony Davis. You could argue the Suns had an easier time due to injuries, but it’s close. I don’t think the Hawks are good enough that the Sixers should have had it go seven, but here we are.

Not acquiring Lowry, especially in these playoffs, feels like a gigantic missed opportunity.

Their Path

This is the first playoffs of Embiid’s career where he could reasonably have been considered the best player left in the playoffs. LeBron’s out. Durant’s out. Steph’s out. Kawhi’s ACL is a mystery that could keep him out the whole postseason. Assuming he’s around 70-80% of peak Kawhi after his injury, this is the list of the best players left in the playoffs:

If you said Joel was the best of those four, some people might argue with you, but no reasonable person would laugh you out of the room. THAT was the field they could have faced if they added Lowry. Instead, they stood pat after already passing on Harden for Simmons, and decided George Hill was enough. They trusted Simmons to be their point guard. This Ben Simmons:

And how did it go?

What a wasted opportunity. Most of the teams should have been aggressive in acquiring Lowry, but it feels like a massive misfire from the Sixers. Champion, clutch performer, and Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry would probably have been less scared of the moment than Ben “don’t foul me” Simmons.

The Lesson

Trade for Lowry!

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About Treye Seabrook-Fields

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