Entering 2017 free agency, rumors swirled Kyle Lowry would leave the Raptors. He ultimately re-signed with Toronto, but maybe that was only due to the timing of Gordon Hayward‘s decision to leave the Jazz for the Celtics.
Andy Larsen and Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune:
according to multiple Tribune sources, the Jazz spoke extensively to Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry’s representatives about bringing the All-Star point guard to Utah. After those discussions, the Jazz felt confident about their ability to land Lowry, but chose to pull out of any potential deal because signing Lowry would have required cap space earmarked for the Hayward
Lowry would have been huge for the Jazz, who instead traded for Ricky Rubio to start at point guard. Utah still won 48 games and a playoff series last season, but the team would have been even better off with Lowry.
Perhaps, Lowry wouldn’t have signed with the Jazz. Just because they felt confident means only so much. They might have misread his actual thoughts. At minimum, Lowry wasn’t willing to wait on Utah.
Lowry agreed to re-sign with Toronto on July 2. Hayward, after a twisting saga, announced his choice of Boston on July 4.
If Lowry were truly willing to commit to the Jazz, they erred by not accepting his pledge. Maybe that was a reasonable strategy, but it was still an error. Waiting on Hayward proved to be a mistake.
In Utah, many will blame Hayward for stringing along the Jazz. But he was a free agent with a right to decide on his own timeline. I believe he had legitimate desire to return to the Jazz. He just had greater desire to join the Celtics.
If the Jazz were completely on top of their game, they would have had a better read on Hayward’s decision and locked in Lowry rather than spending time recruiting Hayward. Again, maybe that would have been unreasonably difficult to know without hindsight. But that would have been the optimal way to proceed.