With the team has been pursuing a fresh start, it was a shock when the Toronto Raptors did not move their heart and soul and pending free agent in Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline. It feels like Lowry is about 90% out the door, so what teams would benefit most from the 2019 NBA champion?
Lowry turned 35 this past March during yet again, another efficient, All-Star caliber season with 17.2 PPG, seven assists and five rebounds with shooting percentages of 43.6 from the field, 39.6 from long-range and 87.5 at the line.
The six-time All-Star had 16 games in 2020-21 where he scored 20 points or more, and 11 with 10 or more assists. Signs were really showing that the Raptors were intending to move in a different direction as Lowry was inactive for 18 of the final 24 games of the season.
What separates him from most of the league and helps him still be considered as one of the premiere PG’s in the league is his ability to rise up when it matters most while leading his troops. His gritty toughness and quarterback-like play is where his elite playmaking comes from. He’s a good rebounder for a six-foot guard and of course, the clutch shooting.
“He’s a complete jackass on the court, and he’s probably one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Fred VanVleet said.
The Suitors: 1-5
1. Miami Heat
Miami emerged as the number one suitor for Lowry as mid-season approached. With the Heat battling for seeding in the conference playoff picture as well, the fit would’ve allowed Jimmy Butler to play off the ball more as they would’ve added another star with postseason experience, whose past success has gone even further than Butler’s. Although Goran Dragic had an excellent playoff run last season and was one of their best scorers in the bubble, his durability is a concern moving forward. Bringing in Lowry would calm those worries.
His leadership could’ve been the icing on the cake for Miami. Lowry could’ve been the commander in the trio of champions in him, Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza. A big-three of Butler, Lowry and Bam Adebayo could easily be a top team in the East. They’d play well on both sides of the floor, making it easy for the three of them to compliment each other’s games. They’d be tough, super vocal, and find their own spots with that elite-playmaking. They’d be able to display such a well-rounded game between the three of them. Sort of like what the Phoenix Suns are doing. Along with the consistent shot-making of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, they’d be a brutal matchup for any team. Expect the Heat to make a run at Lowry as we continue to proceed toward August 2nd.
2. Dallas Mavericks
It’s clear as day in Dallas, Luka Dončić needs help and Owner Mark Cuban is going to do whatever it takes to get get it. We saw coach Rick Carlisle and GM Donnie Nelson depart. Numerous rumors continue to suggest Kristaps Porzingis is available, with his production just not cutting it for Dončić. Him being constantly injury-plagued and overpaid certainly doesn’t help his chances of staying. Shooting 3-10 with nine points in a postseason game at home isn’t good enough for a second star. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Richardson will be free agents that will be looked at by many team this summer too.
With the Mavericks obviously going for a bit of a new look, hence the rumors in them wanting to team up Dončić with Kawhi Leonard, why not Lowry on a short-term deal? He’d give them a Luka-protector and would set the tone in the locker room, holding teammates accountable with Dallas desperately needing a leader of that caliber. Lowry would make life a lot easier, not only for the Mavs organization, but Dončić and the lesser-experienced part of the roster. He’d put his body on the line, study and figure out every single part of Luka’s game and how be conducts things, delivers and carries himself acknowledging all his, “magic,” and everywhere he loves to be on the court in important moments. Lowry would be the exact type of player that Dončić needs as he looks to transform his early-career dominance into winning.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers had no one to carry the load when LeBron James and Anthony Davis were dealing with health issues, ultimately playing on one leg in the play-in game against the Warriors and the first-round against the eventual Western Conference Champion Suns. Many analysts, writers and media looked back at the Lakers not acquiring Lowry as the, “I told you so,” part of this past trade deadline. Although it looked good on paper, the new depth of the Lakers last year unfortunately did not meet expectations compared to the crew in the bubble (the Rondo’s and Danny Green’s of the world).
It seemed as if Kyle Kuzma was never there mentally while Alex Caruso and Montrez Harrell just weren’t enough when it came to help-offense. Dennis Schröder wasn’t selfless enough with his ego offensively and clearly didn’t fill the floor-general, coaching experience and beautiful mind for the game role that Rondo left behind, that which meshed so well with James. It was a main source of LA reaching banner 17.
If the Lakers are looking to get back to that stage for the 18th chip to help James end his career on top again, they need to give him that kind of help again, and who brings it? Kyle Lowry. Both in their late 30s, both champions are hungry to win again and just like Miami, what a big three that would be special. James and Lowry could run the floor and create plays for everyone else, whether it be shooters or Anthony Davis on the pick-and-pop. Plus, the three can be tremendous rebounders to go with grade-A defense. The move brings the Lakers right back to the stage they were at a year ago, if not more superior.
Lowry even had his best outing of the season at Staples Center dropping 37, 11 and 2 boards on 12-20 shooting on May 2nd to remind the Lakers and their faithful what could’ve been.
4. New York Knicks
The Knicks showed in their postseason matchup versus the Atlanta Hawks that they are still multiple moves a way from becoming a championship contender. Derrick Rose had a great season for them with all that he’s been through as of late, but is an unrestricted free agent. Even if Tom Thibodeau wants him back, he can’t be a main option, let alone franchise point guard.
With New York having the most cap space heading into the offseason, they have a huge amount of flexibility. The Knicks can add help and depth for Julius Randle, getting him a partner or even bringing in someone above his talent.
Lowry fills a perfect role in Thibs’ system, playing his style of toughness while being the leader that’s straight forward and gets into the face of teammates in order to motivate them. I can see it happening with Randle as I write this.
The Philadelphia-native gives the Knicks more of an identity moving forward, even if it isn’t that lengthy of a deal. Lowry would help develop younger players, he could even draw more stars to New York based off his past, winning mentality, and how loved he is around the NBA. The Mecca of basketball would absolutely love his gritty, courageousness in the big apple.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are another club that swung and missed during the Lowry-sweepstakes. They ended up settling for Rondo, who seemed as if he may have been the missing link for the team just coming off his second championship. As stated before, he played a crucial part with his coaching on and off the court. With the Clips coming off rumors of dysfunction in the bubble and being in major desire for someone to run point, Lowry was missed dearly because of the depleted on-court production from Rondo.
Assuming Kawhi Leonard decides to stay home in Los Angeles along with Paul George (who is also under a huge contract), the Clippers won’t be going away anytime soon. They will probably seek new role players and move off hefty contracts in Marcus Morris Sr. and Luke Kennard to create a new look as well as cap space, that’s where Lowry can be inserted.
Not only his captain-like behavior, but his scoring and playmaking can be the help Leonard and George need to fulfill their destiny and get over the hump. Just like Leonard helped Lowry do so in Toronto, Lowry can return the favor.
Whatever decision Lowry wishes to make on his future, that franchise he chooses will be more than grateful to have one of the most hardworking and respected people in basketball on their side.
“I don’t mind being a second fiddle, I don’t mind that,” Lowry said. “I don’t care whatever happens, whatever helps my team get a championship is what I want to do. Whatever helps my team win is what I want to do. My job is to get my shots up, come to work, to watch film and get out of there. I don’t get into the management and coaching side, that’s their job, that’s what they get paid for.”
Photo: (Raj Mehta – USA Today Sports)
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