Coming off the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship, Kyle Lowry reportedly threatened to hold out and demand a trade if Toronto didn’t give him a contract extension.
Lowry – who got the extension – clearly has limited willingness to place sentimentality ahead of financial security. That extension will end this summer, and Lowry and the Raptors must again decide on his future.
That process is reaching an inflection point with Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Heat and 76ers are interested in Lowry. Toronto clearly has interest in keeping him. But Lowry’s expiring contract creates a complication – unless he assures a team he’d re-sign, which means understanding how much they’d offer.
I was talking to a GM this morning, and he basically described it as this: Kyle Lowry’s free agency is happening right now. The expectation is that Kyle Lowry is going to have a new contract by the end of this week. It’s either going to be to stay in Toronto – whether it’s signed or an understanding that that’s going happen – it’s going to be Miami or it’s going to be Philadelphia.
This will not be a literal new contract. Because his prior extension was for only one year, Lowry is not eligible for another contract extension. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
But whichever team ends the season with Lowry will have his Bird Rights and a leg up on signing him.
So, teams interested in Lowry – Toronto, Miami and Philadelphia – want an idea of his salary demands before trading. These types of talks aren’t uncommon, especially because the Raptors seemingly want to do right by Lowry. This could be Lowry’s last chance to set himself up for a big contract.
Toronto already has Lowry, and he probably wouldn’t return if traded. (The Raptors, or technically any team that ends the season with Lowry, could also wait to sign-and-trade him.) The Heat could have cap space to sign Lowry as an outside free agent this summer, but they could also use him for the stretch run this year and would have an easier time signing him with his Bird Rights. The 76ers really hit the sweet spot of both wanting Lowry for the 2021 playoffs and, as such an expensive team, needing his Bird Rights to sign him this offseason.
Lowry is a tricky player to value. He’s very good. He has also begun to decline and will turn 35 on Thursday.
But if Lowry and a team agree to terms on his next contract – again, in principle only – that’d give everyone involved desired clarity on at least that issue.