Dec 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) react after scoring during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Toronto won 109-108. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Part 2 of "Does Kyle Lowry remain a Raptor"?

In Part 1, I discussed under what circumstances the Toronto Raptors would be compelled to trade Kyle Lowry. Let’s now examine some big-picture issues, starting with an attempt to determine how good he is compared to other NBA teams’ point guards.

December 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The “Best Point Guard?” topic by itself constitutes an argument-laced rabbit hole from which we could never emerge, so I’m going to short-circuit that possibility by listing those players whom I believe are better than Kyle right now: Chris Paul (LA Clippers), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards). Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Russell Westbrook (OKC Thunder) and Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics) are all sidelined with serious injuries. If healthy, they nudge in front of Kyle as well.

Kyle is in the second rank, but in some excellent company, including Jrue Holiday (NO Pelicans), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Whatevers), Ty Lawson (Denver Nuggets) and Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers). Any coach would be happy to begin the season with one of these guys at the helm of his starting unit.

What does that mean at the pay window? Kyle’s expiring contract pays him $6.21M, and he’s in line for a raise. Based on his veteran status, and a look at other salaries, Masai Ujiri should offer him a 3-year, $24M deal, today.

Will Kyle take that offer, or something close to it? He might, if he believes the Raptors are on the verge of serious contention. Kyle also needs to ask himself “Where else can I go?”. The players I’ve named aren’t changing teams, and most are younger than Kyle. I doubt he’ll sign where the money is biggest if he knows he’d be going through another rebuild, so Milwaukee, Utah and Philly are out. He’d go crazy in New York with the mess they’re in. He’d be on the bench in Brooklyn behind oft-injured Deron Williams, and the Nets can’t afford him anyway. Houston? Too much bad blood. Sac-to? They have a smurf guard they’re happy with, Isaiah Thomas. Miami’s point guard, Mario Chalmers, isn’t great, but they’ve won 2 straight championships with him. Indiana is 24-5 starting George Hill, and Dallas seems happy with Jose Calderon.

Kyle might receive interest from perhaps 6 teams;  the Pistons, Magic, Lakers, Suns, Grizzlies, and Hawks.

The effect of Kyle’s new deal on the Raps salary cap would not be severe, although players like John Salmons and Austin Daye might have to move on in ’14-’15. If Kyle doesn’t return, or is traded, Greivis Vasquez would presumably get the big job. I don’t think he’s the answer, but he’s better than a stopgap. The backup would be Julyan-Dwight StoneBuycks.

Is it time to play hardball with Kyle Lowry? Here’s how: work out a deal with a no-hope team. Then tell him if he doesn’t sign the new deal he’s been offered within 3 days, he’ll be traded before the deadline to the Oblivion Cellar Dwellers, where his stats will drop like a rock, thus damaging his chances of a big free-agent payday. It’s a perfectly legitimate negotiating tactic, last used by the Thunder when they were down to short strokes with James Harden. All cleverness aside, a winning Raptors team is in a surprisingly strong bargaining position to entice Kyle to re-sign, which would bring smiles to all our faces.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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