The buzz that Kyle Lowry was thinking of leaving the Raptors has been all over the NBA for half a season (at least). Potential destinations from his hometown of Philadelphia (not happening now) to San Antonio have surfaced as potential destinations.
Then on Monday came this from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Sun, in a piece about the crossroads the Raptors are at (and if they should pursue Paul George):
Kyle Lowry is a free agent, and multiple league sources say the all-star point guard has been grumbling about dissatisfaction with the Raptors for months. As of mid-May other teams were being told Lowry had “zero interest” in returning to Toronto, even if the Raptors offered a maximum five-year deal. Which since the club had no intention of offering a five-year deal probably made Lowry’s declaration easier to make.
Lowry responded on Twitter.
I’ve heard Lowry is conflicted. Which makes sense, big decisions are almost never easy and obvious.
Lowry went from good player to All-Star, face-of-the-franchise guy in Toronto, and he knows if he signs a four-year deal and plays it out, they will retire his number and he will forever be a Raptors legend. That has obvious appeal. Plus, the Raptors are good – a top-three team in the East, top eight in the NBA. Plus, he and DeMar DeRozan work well together. That’s hard to walk away from.
Where is he going to go where he can make similar money and play for a contender? If he’s gong to leave Toronto to win, those teams above Toronto are largely capped out, so he would be taking a pay cut (or said teams will have to strip down their roster to get him). He could get paid and run the show for a lesser team, but is that what he wants.
The Raptors are good but not better than the Cavaliers, and Boston has moved past Toronto with plenty of room to still grow. We may have seen peak Raptors, unless GM Masai Ujiri has something up his sleeve. Maybe Lowry is enticed by what he sees as greener (and less snowy) pastures.
He’s a guy to watch this summer, but he wants you to know there’s more than a “zero percent” chance he returns.