Even though plenty of fans could see his departure coming, the fact that Kyle Lowry is no longer a member of the Toronto Raptors is still hard to swallow for a large chunk of the fanbase. Even head coach Nick Nurse is having a hard time internalizing this.
Lowry called time on a Toronto career that lasted nearly a decade and helped bring the franchise a championship. A sign-and-trade deal helped him land with good friend Jimmy Butler on the Miami Heat, as that squad is likely in a much better position to compete for a championship than the Raptors are.
Nurse was trying to get some of his projected started some extra reps in a preseason game against the rival Philadelphia 76ers. In doing so, he had a Freudian slip that shows he and many others are still adjusting to life without No. 7 running the show in the backcourt.
When Nurse was asked about his starting lineup for Thursday night’s loss, he claimed that Lowry was going to be the starting point guard. When he realized his flub, he caught himself and changed his answer to Fred VanVleet. When you get used to penciling in Lowry for almost every single game over three years, you start forming habits like that.
Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse thought Kyle Lowry was in the lineup.
While Goran Dragic didn’t connect on one shot from the field in 22 minutes last night, VanVleet was 7-13 from the floor and 3-9 from 3-point range. It might have just been a preseason game, but that’s the type of stuff that this team needs to see from VanVleet as he tries to replace a legend in Lowry.
Not only will Lowry leaving vacate a good chunk of offensive skill and defensive energy, but the leadership quotient that he had is borderline irreplaceable. The best that players like VanVleet can do is form a convincing facsimile of that leadership based around the lessons and values Lowry instilled in this franchise.
While he might be down in Miami now, it doesn’t appear that age or his new destination has slowed him down one bit. Even though Lowry had two points Thursday night, he recorded 10 assists, five rebounds, and four steals. He’s going to fit in just fine down there.
It’s going to take some time getting used to the Toronto Raptors taking the floor night in and night without Lowry leading the charge. Even his old coach is still making some flubs in that regard. At least Lowry appears to be cooking in Miami.