Toronto Raptors: Predicting Kyle Lowry’s next contract and future team

Kyle Lowry brought the Championship to the North. (Photo by Rey Josue II/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kyle Lowry brought the Championship to the North. (Photo by Rey Josue II/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Case for the Gratuity Contract

The Raptors are in a unique situation in which the franchise has done wrong by one of its greatest players of all time. With Vinsanity forcing a trade out in his athletic prime, many fans of the early (Triassic?) Raptors still have a half-bitter half-amazing taste in their mouth. Similarly, Kawhi, Chris Bosh and T-Mac both nonchalantly opted out of the North via free agency.

However, prior to being jettisoned, DeMar DeRozan committed his loyalty and prime to the franchise. He was the star who chose to stay.

Kyle Lowry has also re-upped with the North through unrestricted free agency and committed his prime to the franchise.

The Raptors have an opportunity to look after Lowry and make amends for the DeMar swap vicariously through his best friend.

Kyle Lowry will most definitely prefer to sign with the Raptors, the team where he was made an All-Star, became the best version of himself, and ascended to NBA Champion. Having Kyle retire a Raptor would set a new precedent for a franchise that hasn’t yet had any fairy-tale endings with their star players.

Enter the gratuity contract. Most recently, and famously, bestowed upon Kobe Bryant in 2013. The contract came following his torn Achilles no less, the gratuity max was meant by the Buss family to highlight the importance of Kobe Bryant to the franchise.

By giving the Black Mamba a third of their cap space for each of the next two seasons ($23.5 Million and $25 Million Average Annual Value respectively), the Lakers effectively pulled the emergency brakes on their rebuild and prioritized honouring their legend over other business savvy moves.

GM Masai Ujiri has largely treated the Raptors players as assets and made business conscious (re: cold-hearted) moves to build this championship roster. It would be a welcome change to see Masai reward one of the franchise legends with a large short-term contract as a way of conveying the City’s and ownership groups’ gratitude for his service.

Given Masai’s past moves, however, this seems very unlikely.