Raptors

Have Lowry’s Raptors Ran Their Course?

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Does Kyle Lowry deserve better than the Toronto Raptors?

It’s a question no one thought they’d be asking. Despite winning four of their last five, the Toronto Raptors sit at 6-9, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference. Yes, the team is only two games out of fifth place, but let’s not play dumb: the Raptors simply are not a title contender this season. There’s no shame in admitting that. 

The team has lost major pieces from the 2019 championship-winning season — Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol — and Pascal Siakam isn’t playing up to the Most Improved Player level he set for himself that season. So as the Raptors look to rebuild their identity this season with Fred VanVleet (four-year, $85 million contract), OG Anunoby (four-year, $72 million extension) and early-season MIP candidate Chris Boucher, should they trade Kyle Lowry?

Lowry’s Hustle, Leadership Remains Vastly Underappreciated

For years, Lowry has been the heart and soul of the Raptors. He’s come a long way since his days in Memphis and Houston and earned the respect and the admiration of fanbase. He’s a six-time All-Star, an All-NBA player and an NBA Champion and synonymous with Toronto Raptors basketball. 

But eventually all great stories must come to an end. Lowry is almost 35 years old and on an expiring contract. And most importantly, he’s still playing great basketball, averaging 18.2 points, 7.1 assists, 6.5 rebounds and a steal per game. It’s almost a disservice to all Lowry has done for the franchise to keep him around for the remainder of the season.

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To be fair, Lowry does love the city of Toronto and the Raptors organization.

“I’m coming back to Toronto because my heart is telling me that it’s home — and because staying home, for me and my family, feels like the right thing to do,” Lowry wrote in the Players’ Tribune when he resigned with the Raptors in 2017. “My heart is telling me that this is the best city in the world, with the best basketball fans in the world. It’s telling me that the Raptors can be a championship-level team, sooner than later.” 

Lowry accomplished what he set out to do: delivering Toronto their first championship in franchise history. But the Raptors are no longer a threat to make a deep run into the playoffs and he’s played more basketball in Florida than anywhere else in this past year. Now, it might be time for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster to extend their gratitude and send Lowry away in a mutually beneficial trade.

For Lowry, his $30 million contract limits potential suitors, but it’s a price the Philadelphia 76ers might be willing to pay. After the Brooklyn Nets’ blockbuster trade for James Harden, Philly (the other real presumed destination for Harden) will need to make a splash of their own to keep up. Although Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey have both been key to the team’s 9-5 start, Lowry’s veteran presence and playoff experience would be a godsend when facing other formidable backcourts in the Eastern Conference.

And Lowry, `a native of Philadelphia, would feel a lot more at home in the City of Brotherly Love than in Tampa. 

For the Raptors, it would hurt a lot. Lowry is the Greatest Raptor of All Time, but his value is being wasted on this current roster. In a trade with the 76ers, they’d get back picks and maybe Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe as solid, young pieces. At this point, you’d be (hypothetically) looking at a starting lineup of VanVleet, Thybulle, Anunoby, Siakam and Boucher, all of whom have room to grow as players. 

If a Kyle Lowry trade happens, it won’t be easy to say goodbye. Writing this hypothetical scenario, it’s already tough to envision a Raptors team without him on the court. But in the end, it would set the organization up for the future and allow Lowry to continue his legacy.   

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

About Sasha Podzorov

Sasha Podzorov is a journalism student at Stony Brook University where he broadcasts volleyball, soccer and lacrosse games. He is a huge basketball and soccer fan, and a Top Gear and Jeopardy enthusiast. Connect with him on Twitter @sasha_podzorov

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