It’s an expected part of the news cycle: First come the trade rumors, followed quickly by the official denial of that rumor. Sometimes that denial is the truth, sometimes it’s an effort to keep leverage in a negotiation.
Not much later, Lowry’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, was on SiriusXM NBA Radio this afternoon with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson.
“That’s just not true…” Bartelstein said. “I got on the phone with Masai (Ujiri, Raptors president) and Bobby (Webster, Raptors GM) and let them know that [report] certainly wasn’t coming from us…
“The communication’s great (between Lowry and the Raptors)… his focus is on playing for the Raptors and winning and helping his teammates and doing great things the rest of the season.”
This is what an agent has to say, but it could also very well be true. Lowry may want to retire a Raptor.
Lowry trade speculation is flying around the league because he’s in the final year of his contract — making $30.5 million — and the Raptors need to make a decision: Bring in a center (Andre Drummond?) and other help to try and make a deep playoff run this season, then try to re-sign Lowry in the offseason. Or, trade him now and focus on building the next generation of the team around Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
Ultimately, the Raptors should ask Lowry what he wants. He is the face of the franchise, the greatest Raptor ever, and whether he wants to stay or go, the Toronto front office will work with him to make it happen.
If Lowry wants to move on (and that’s a big ‘if’), it would make sense he would have interest in a contender in his hometown with the 76ers.
The challenge is that $30.5 million salary, matching it without devastating the roster is a challenge. Would Philly be willing to send out Danny Green and Seth Curry to make the deal work, sacrificing depth to get a championship-winning shot-creator at the point? Is there another way to work that trade (maybe with a third team) so it makes sense for the sides?
We could speculate all we want, but Bartelstein is likely grounded in reality.”
“That’s just not true.”