Playoffs are history for Toronto Raptors players and fans. It was a fascinating period though; almost every playoff game was a close one, a smell of a rivalry between the players and the fans…And especially about Raptors fans, they proved that they are perhaps the best and most devoted in the NBA.
The whole 2013-2014 season for our Toronto Raptors was an extremely good one, especially after the Rudy Gay trade back in December 8th, 2013.
We’ve witnessed energy, team play, fancy and attractive basketball, many wins (franchise record of 48) and playoff series.
We’ve also witnessed leadership and superb basketball skills and stats from two of the players: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. The first, DeRozan had been awarded with an all-star appearance, first of his career, and the second one, Lowry, lost his All-Star appearance for a vote, which been given to the Toronto Raptors “exterminator” during the Playoff series (20 pts per game), Joe Johnson of Brooklyn Nets.
In my opinion, the true leader of this Raptors team, and the true all-star, is Kyle Lowry. His leadership on and off the floor, his unselfish but also very effective play (21 pts 4.7 ats, 4.7 rebs during playoffs and 18 pts, 7.4 apg and 4.7 rpg during the regular season), his energy on defence and offence made him the “king” of this team, and the true franchise player. We must give credit to DeMar for his performance this season, and for his season by season improvement, but Lowry’s performance this year was critical for this team’s success.
Behind the glory, there is a sad (?) story. Kyle Lowry is a unrestricted free agent this year. Many reporters and basketball experts said that he played so well, just for himself and for getting the best free-agent contract available during the summer. Others say that Lowry built chemistry with the team, including coach Dwane Casey, and his game blossomed as a result. I believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle.
So, what should Raptors do? They have the flexibility to offer him a big contract, but they have also big contracts (my name is Landry Fields) that are difficult to be traded, so the flexibility will go. How big is the risk to offer a player a $10,000,000+ contract, a player that besides this season was inconsistent and injury prone?
I believe Masai Ujiri should take this risk. Such Point Guard – Generals are a rarity in the league right now. And Lowry proved this year that if he feels comfortable and trusted, he could be one of the league’s best PGs. This may create some financial difficulties, if for example the scope of this team is to get much stronger next year, but a contending team must build a roster starting by finding the best available PG and finishing with a good Centre. And right now, the Toronto Raptors have these two pieces that can build a contender. Guards and Forwards are many, but effective PGs (and Cs with potential) are few.
So, if there would be a poll I could vote “Keep Lowry, give him the money he wants”. Of course we have to consider that there is a salary cap, and that the team must have more than one or two talented players to achieve success.
Right now, it’s not only Masai’s job to sign Lowry a contract. It’s Kyle’s too, and a re-sign with the team is the best proof of his last words during the press conference after the playoff series, words that showed his love for the club and his teammates.