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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Tags: Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors Trade Rumors

  • Tamberlyn Richardson

    I understand your premise but it’s precisely for the reason you note regarding available teams who might be interested in Kyle’s services that I believe his true preference is to remain a Raptor.

    Of the 6 teams you mention:
    1) Detroit acquired Brendon Jennings as their starting PG just this season.
    2) Magic: Though currently coming off the bench Victor Oladipo is the designated future PG (though he could play the 2)
    3) Lakers have a glut of PG’s including Nash & Blake
    4) Suns are sizzling with Bledsoe & Dragic
    5) Grizzlies are locked in with Mike Conley for the long run
    6) Hawks are thrilled with production of Teague.

    It doesn’t seem any of these clubs (save for possibly the Magic if they don’t go with Oladipo at the Point) would need a starting PG which brings me back to my original point. Kyle has had two bad experiences in Memphis and in Houston where he was picked up to be the starting Point Guard & found himself in a situation where he was dueling with Conley and Dragic respectively and wound up on the short end of the stick. There’s no way he’ll want to chance going to a club where he isn’t guaranteed to be the starter.

    The other thing I’ll point out (no pun intended) is Kyle for my money actually enters the upper echelon of PG’s for one very tangible reason; the kid is one of only 3 or 4 at his position who combines the ability to lead, never quits no matter what the score is, has killer instinct and most importantly is the one player on the Raptors who consistently stops other teams runs or makes the key shot to get us back in the game; a trend I became very aware of starting with their blowout win in Memphis. Only Westbrook, Lillard and Paul currently demonstrate that ability. And for my tastes I find CP3 is way too injury prone. Time and again this year we’ve seen Lowry make the key play to push the Raptors lead, stop a run or get us back in a game; the kid simply has no quit. He has figured out the balancing act of reading a game to know when he needs to take over a game and I put him well ahead of Kyrie for that reason alone.

    In fact, although most are highlighting Ross as the direct benefactor from Gay’s departure my personal opinion is Kyle has been the player who has benefited most. Without his best friend on the team he no longer holds back from running the team to get Rudy the ball and it’s allowed for his emergence as the on court general. DeMar and Kyle have fallen into a perfect balance in the back court and Kyle doesn’t have to get Rudy rolling any longer or even DeMar who has easily transitioned into the type of leader Gay was suppose to be when he arrived.

    Bottom line I understand your thinking and see it’s merit but my gut tells me Kyle wants to remain a Raptor. Only his home town of Philly could change his mind but with MCW that’s not about to happen. Sure Masai could still pull a rabbit deal out of his magician’s hat but with the Raptors playing with so much fluidity and shortly entering a much more palatable portion of their schedule I believe we will be seeing marked improvements of this new squad each month as Kyle leads them to a top 3 seed.

    Masai is a very smart GM and the one thing besides talent all teams search for is chemistry; so whether Ujiri planned on it or not the Rudy Gay trade translated into a team with a tangible, visible bond on and off the court. In my opinion the last thing he’ll do is tinker with that by trading away the head of the snake that makes it function so smoothly.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Tamberlyn:
      Your long and thoughtful comment demands a careful response.
      I’m glad you picked up on the teams I suggested might be interested in Kyle Lowry as a free agent.
      1) If I’m Detroit, I keep looking. Brandon Jennings has never been to my taste.
      2) Victor O shows signs of being a nice player. Will Orlando wait?
      3) If the Lake Show thinks Nash & Blake are the answer to any question, they should change their medication.
      4) I hear you about the Suns, but they might nose around Kyle anyway. My guess is their investigation wouldn’t go much further, and they will stick with the guys you mention.
      5) See point 1…I wouldn’t try to build a championship team around Conley.
      6) Teague may continue to develop, in which case you’re right, the Hawks won’t bother with Kyle.
      In short, we concur, and you’ve made a good case that the list of teams who might be interested in a #1 point guard is even shorter than I thought. I hope Kyle’s advisers are whispering in his ear “There’s no place like home (and it’s now Toronto, not Philly).”
      Winning cures a lot of ills, and as you say, chemistry is essential. Come on, Masai, you’re a smart guy. Get that new contract under Kyle’s nose, and hand him a pen.
      Thanks for commenting, and please come back.

  • Guy

    Could not disagree more with your ‘play hardball’ scenario. What would it say about the organization if they approached Lowry, probably the most important player in this turn around, & essentially said ‘take this offer or we’ll screw you’? Total lack of appreciation & respect. May as well slap him in the face. If I was Lowry & you approached me with that, I’d say ‘Trade me now & good luck enticing any worthwhile free agent when this gets around.’

    There are a few things that need to be determined. There are a number of things that could make trading Lowry the obvious move. But, if both parties(Ujiri & Lowry) are of like mind about him remaining in TO, then I think you sit down & work out an extension.

    Personally, I’d like to see him re-signed. I think Lowry is the best overall Pg the team has had in over a decade. He scores, facilitates, rebounds, draws fouls & plays solid defense. I know you’re a big Calderon fan but, even at his best, Jose didn’t those last three things.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      We agree more than disagree, particularly on the essential point, which is the desire to resign Kyle. I’m with you that the guy is terrific. There’s an intermediate step, in which Masai asks Kyle for a list of teams to which he’d be happy being dealt (assuming Kyle is firm in his desire not to return). If our clever GM can strike a deal, so be it. Otherwise, it’s hardball time. Kyle can’t just be allowed to walk away; he’s too valuable. Note that OKC hasn’t suffered any blowback from their power play with Harden. Free agents will gravitate to teams where they have a chance to win.
      You are right that I’m a Calderon fan, but I’m not blind to his weaknesses. If he was a Rap at this moment, he’d be the PG coming off the bench. However, Jose is shooting from outside so well these days, he could be the recipient of Kyle’s passes. In other words, he could back up DeMar, rather than Kyle. Jose and Kyle on the floor at the same time would also facilitate a lot of close wins. No turnovers, and a bunch of made free throws as the opponents are forced to foul.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Guy

        Hmmmmmm, we definitely have a difference of opinion. I’m not worried in the least that Lowry walks for nothing. If Ujiri gets even the slightest sense Kyle wont re-sign, he’ll deal him. If that’s the case, the last thing you worry about is where KL would like to go. You get the best deal for the team.

        OKC? Weren’t they already a championship contender lead by two legit all-stars named Durant & Westbrook? I think that’s why they didn’t suffer from the Harden trade. The Raptors situation is nothing like that. You’re right, free agents will go to an attractive situation, but, in my opinion, I don’t consider a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 5 years, treating an important player like Lowry in the hard-ball manner you suggested an attractive option. More one to avoid.

        Calderon back in a Raps uniform? No thanks. Regardless of how well Lowry is playing, there are far too many Calderon fans that mistakenly think he was a superstar & they’d be calling for him to start if Lowry had a bad quarter. The team does not need that. Also, TO is establishing themselves as a hard defensive team & Jose does not fit. He doesn’t draw fouls & is to slow to be a suitable backup for Derozan. Jose had his chance in Toronto, didn’t work out.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Guy:

          Last word on Calderon – he’s not coming back, so let’s move on.
          I think if you re-read your comment, you’ll see you’re arguing against yourself. I believe you should take Kyle’s wishes into account, if possible, in order to avoid gaining a hard-ball reputation. Yet you write “the last thing you worry about is where KL would like to go”.

          I hope all this is moot soon enough. If Masai re-signs Kyle, we’re all smiling. Please stay in touch.