Kyle Lowry’s value has never been higher.
It might never get higher.
With Lowry heading into free agency this summer, this could be the exact right time to trade him. The Raptors could get substantial long-term assets in return, positioning themselves to truly contend down the road.
However, a Lowry trade would almost certainly undermine their rewarding 2013-14 season. A playoff appearance with the solid possibility of winning a postseason series isn’t an incredible feat – especially in this Eastern Conference – but it would be well-received by fans in Toronto, where the local NBA team has mostly struggled since its inception.
That dilemma is complicated enough on its own. But what if the Raptors keep Lowry through the end of the season. How much should they offer him this summer?
The Raptors do not want to give Lowry a big-money contract this summer along the lines of what other point guards who’ve signed extensions recently: Denver’s Ty Lawson (four years, $48 million), Golden State’s Stephen Curry (four years, $44 million) or New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday (four years, $41 million from Philadelphia).
(It should not need to be said that there’s no chance of Lowry getting anything approaching John Wall’s max deal in Washington.)
Curry is more valuable than Lowry, but Curry is one of the NBA’s most underpaid players. That’s not fair to Lowry – or any free agent point guard – to accept less than that just because Warriors got a bargain.
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Lowry’s next contract likely won’t match his age (27) and production (19.7 PER and .201 win shares per 48 minutes), because he has a history of clashing with coaches. There will also be fair questions about whether Lowry is just experiencing a breakout season due to a contract year.
I expect the consensus opinion for Lowry’s value to fall short of Holiday’s four years, $41 million – the smallest contract on Aldridge’s list of comparables the Raptors want to avoid.
But Lowry won’t be paid by consensus opinion. He’ll be paid by the team that offers him the most.
I bet the Raptors, if they don’t trade Lowry, will have another tough decision ahead – besting another team’s offer in the $40 million range or losing him for nothing.