Every Toronto Raptors game against the Miami Heat for the next couple of seasons is going to be an emotional affair, as seeing Kyle Lowry in those vibrant City Edition uniforms is always going to be an unusual sight. Seeing the GROAT with Miami across his chest just looks wrong.
Lowry appeared ready to move on from Toronto and join a contending team, which led to a sign-and-trade swap that gave the well-compensated Lowry a three-year contract. His Heat earned the top seed in the East last year, though Toronto was not that far behind him.
The Raptors will face off against Miami for the first of two straight road meetings on Friday night, giving them an opportunity to measure just how far they’ve come in their quest to match up evenly against one of the best teams in the East. Subtracting Lowry may have actually helped further that end.
The Lowry trade was brutal to swallow initially, but the Raptors have been able to rebound and create a contending team following his departure. Losing a Canadian icon is tough, but that trade happened at just the right time for this franchise.
3 reasons why the Kyle Lowry trade helped the Toronto Raptors
3. Financial flexibility
The Raptors knew that they could not move forward with their new era, centered around Scottie Barnes, and built a competitive team with Lowry’s contract dangling off the team’s books. Lowry can still be an effective player, but a three-year contract with $85 million fully guaranteed is quite rich.
The Raptors are still figuring out what to do with Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam from a financial point of view. They must do so with the expectation that Scottie Barnes will eventually get a huge payday. With Lowry playing as he has been on the contract he signed with Miami, Toronto would have been put in a box.
The Toronto Raptors couldn’t afford to pay Kyle Lowry.
If Lowry were in the fold, does Gary Trent Jr. get that contract in free agency? Even if the answer was yes, the Raptors might not even entertain the notion of giving him a nine-figure deal this offseason if they had all that Lowry cash on the books. At age 36, that’s quite a hefty commitment.
Lowry coming back on a short-term deal may have made the conversation a bit different, but his apparent motivation to leave coupled with the fact that he wanted $28 million per year upfront was too expensive, even for an ownership group that will pay to retain stars.