Raptors fans have James Dolan’s fear of getting fleeced by Masai Ujiri — again — to thank for their position a top the Eastern Conference.
Remember at the start of last season the Raptors just were not working, they needed changes, and GM Masai Ujiri was clearly thinking big moves. First he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento (which worked out well for both sides), then he set up a deal that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and a 2018 first round pick (Metta World Peace’s name was rumored also). A reasonable trade. But Dolan backed out (he didn’t like how the Carmelo Anthony trade went with Ujiri), Lowry stayed and the Raptors started winning. A lot.
A day after the Raptors failed to sign Steve Nash as a free agent, (then GM) Bryan Colangelo brought Lowry in from Houston in a trade for a first-round pick and somebody named Gary Forbes. Lowry remembers his emotion on that day.
“Two and done and I’m going home,” he said….
“I figured two years and I’d be a free agent and go somewhere else. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tell people that all the time. You can’t predict your future. You have to live it by the day….
“Our season last year was a helluva story. I was traded (to New York). Essentially, I was gone. My best friend (Rudy Gay) got traded. It was all messed up.”
Now Lowry is happy — he signed a new deal with the Raptors this summer (four years, $48 million), he loves the city and he loves all the winning. Lowry matured, his game matured and everything fell into place last season.
Lowry is playing at an All-Star level again this season — 20 points and 7.7 assists a game with a PER of 23.9 — and the coaches are not going to leave him off the list this year as an alternate (he’s fourth in the fan voting, Toronto has come out for him in numbers, but it’s not likely the fans vault him past John Wall, Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to be a starter).
As for the Knicks… well, you don’t need a ball dominating point guard in the triangle really. So you can try to console yourself with that.