Raptors

Lowry Hits Free Agency Without Having Lost a Step

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The Kyle Lowry era of Toronto Raptors basketball may be coming to an end this summer.

Having signed a one-year extension on the three-year, $100 million deal he got back in 2017, the team is sure to work with him on what the next move will be.

Lowry already stated that money & years on the contract will weigh heavily when deciding whether or not to return. But perhaps the most important factor for both Lowry and the organization is the team’s direction. Team president Masai Ujiri’s focus is on getting back to winning a championship.

And you don’t even have to take my word for it:

Lowry thinks this team can win another championship in the near future. But does the front office think so too?

In 2019, the 35-year-old said that he believes he can play at his current level for another three years. Two years later, the numbers back that up belief.

But is holding on to him long term too much risk for the front office? And is the potential years and money of a Raptors offer good enough for Lowry? All of this deserves a deep dive into why the Raptors should, and why they should not keep Dr. Kyle Lowry.

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Why they should keep him

As stated before, there’s been no decline in his play. This year he averaged 17.2 points (44% FG, 40% 3PT, 88% FT), 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists over 34.8 minutes per game– right on pace with his averages over the last eight seasons. In transition, he’s often pushing the pace by being first one down the floor, or trailing for a catch-and-shoot opportunity. Defensively, he’s still harassing guards who are four-to-five inches taller on a nightly basis, drawing charges at an elite rate, and shouting instructions to teammate every play.

But his play only tells you half of what his value truly is.

Lowry has been the heart and soul of this franchise. For the majority of Raptors history, keeping free agents has been a problem. But when Kyle re-signed with the Raps in 2014, it signaled a new era of Raptors basketball. As Kyle stated, it was around this time that Toronto stopped feeling like an outpost and started feeling like home. Since then he’s been a part of every achievement and disappointment this franchise — and its fans — experienced.

But he never quit on this team.

He didn’t always come through in the clutch, but he never stopped showing up to work every day. His stats prove he’s an all-star, but his quirky personality, strong character, and on- and off-court leadership are why he’s the greatest Raptor of all time.

Why they should let him go

The franchise is at least a few years away competing with Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference crown.

So on paper, the Raptors signing a 35-year-old Kyle Lowry to a nine-figure, long-term deal — which is what he’ll seek — doesn’t sound wise. Conversely, however, it’s unlikely he’ll find a deal like that anywhere else. The only reason he’ll leaves in free agency is to play for a contender– and most contenders who would take on Lowry’s contract would be pushed deep into the luxury tax for the foreseeable future, making it harder to add other meaningful pieces. So going to Miami, Los Angeles or Philly would mean he’s taking a discount.

How much of a discount is where things get dicey.

In addition, maybe it’s just time to say goodbye. He has helped elevate the game of every single Raptors’ player around him. It used to be Kyle and DeMar’s team– now it’s Kyle’s, Fred VanVleet‘s, Pascal Siakam‘s, and OG Anunoby‘s team. The latter three all have perennial all-star potential, so perhaps giving the young guns more control will help them grow even further.

Besides, when all is said and done, we know he’ll be ours forever.

Lowry Sits in unique position

Contrary to popular belief, becoming an all-star with a team, staying there for an extended period of time, and then retiring with said team is extremely rare. Every team reaches a crossroads with its aging stars eventually. But thankfully for Lowry, he’s still is at the peak of his powers. In fact, being in the driver’s seat of your own NBA career at age 35 is something only LeBron James can currently say. And since he is among the most coveted free agents available this summer, he may get to have his cake and eat it too.

Kyle Lowry and the Raptors may be headed to a bittersweet conclusion. But knowing that he’s got a chance to further bolster his hall-of-fame resume is sweet enough to overcome the bitterness.

Follow us on Twitter @RaptorsLead for the latest Raptors news and insight. 

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