Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is a free agent this summer, and the speculation about his future has already started. There are questions about whether the Raptors want to keep this core together — as it starts to head into luxury tax range — only to end up banging their head against the LeBron James wall in the playoffs. There are rumors that maybe Lowry wants to bolt Toronto for a better team — he said in his exit interview “I just want a ring.”
Then there’s the buzz out of Philly that Lowry would come home to lead the Sixers.
Which is kind of the opposite of going for a ring in his prime, but Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it could happen.
Sources have said the North Philly native has been interested in playing for the Sixers for some time. The speculation only heightened once Bryan Colangelo became the president of basketball operations in April 2016. As the Raptors general manager, Colangelo acquired Lowry in a trade from the Houston Rockets on July 11, 2012. The two have remained good friends since then.
And sources have always said that the Sixers planned to offer Lowry a lucrative contract this summer.
Never say never around the NBA.
But this is as close to never as a Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy marriage.
Lowry says a ring is the only priority, but every player says that until they have to leave millions on the table to do it (well, almost every player, David West is the most notable exception). The Spurs could sure use Lowry, but unless Pau Gasol opts out or can be traded while taking almost no money back, and then the Spurs find a way to dump at least another $5 million, San Antonio can’t get near offering max money. In reality, Lowry likely would need to take more than $10 million a year less from the Spurs than the Raptors or any other team could offer. If Lowry were actually serious about a ring San Antonio would be the best fit, there is no other team in the East that could offer him a max deal and he would make them a contender.
If Lowry is going to be about the money, then he likely stays in Toronto — they can offer one more guaranteed year, the difference between $205 million guaranteed (over five years) vs. $158 million (over four years). Plus he’s comfortable there, GM Masai Ujiri said bringing Lowry back is a priority, and this team is good.
In the unlikely event Toronto tried to get Lowry to take a discount and pissed him off, then the Spurs decide they don’t want to get involved, all the Sixers would need to do is beat out a bunch of other suitors and convince Lowry to come home again… except not every player wants to do that. LeBron James did but he’s more the exception than the rule, most players see coming home as a series of added distractions and problems.
Maybe Lowry is an exception and is serious about potentially coming home. But that leads to one other question:
Why would Philly do this? I know they want some veteran leaders and quality players to start rounding out the young roster, but if you’ve been saying for a year that Ben Simmons as a point forward is the future of this franchise — and if nothing else, they have to try it out — then why bring in an established point guard to take the ball out of his hands? Lowry would be mentoring the next generation of Sixers and likely putting up numbers, but is that his goal at this point in his career?
Never say never, but I just do not see a return home for Lowry working out.