The Raptors are in a weird spot: Still enjoying their 2019 NBA title with minimal chance of defending it despite returning so many key players.
These aren’t the 1999 Bulls, who were nearly completely different from the 1998 champion Bulls. Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell are all still in Toronto. But without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors’ ceiling is far lower.
Is that where the franchise wants to be? Is that where the remaining players want to be?
In the case of Lowry, yes.
Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors have agreed on a one-year, $31 million contract extension that takes the five-time All-Star guard out of July’s free-agent market, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN.
This deal gives Lowry financial security – not location security. The Raptors can still trade him. But he locks in another high salary, maybe his last big payday.
Taking this extension was an interesting choice for him. Lowry will now enter fee agency at age 35 rather than 34. His next contract will likely be worth less. But the extension provides guaranteed money now.
It’s also an interesting choice for the Raptors if they’re open to trading Lowry. Does an extra season on his deal make him more or less valuable? They definitely get more time to find a trade.
Of course, this extension could be designed just to keep Lowry in Toronto longer. He’s so revered there. It’d be a happy ending if he finishes his career with the Raptors, and this deal could get him one step closer.
Toronto now has more reason not to extend Pascal Siakam, which would cut into next summer’s cap space. When the Raptors’ cap room projected to be so high anyway – about $80 million – they could have more easily justified a Siakam extension. With that projected cap space down to about $50 million, Toronto should be more cost-conscious. Extending Siakam could still work, but this nudges the Raptors toward keeping him on his low cap hold then re-signing him in restricted free agency next summer.
Though Lowry wouldn’t have appealed to every team at his age, this also removes a quality free agent from an already-weak 2020 class.