Kyle Lowry has been the best point guard the Raptors have ever had.
Not only that, but Lowry has had the best years of his career with the Raptors. The Raptors have had some good point guards such as Damon Stoudamire, Alvin Williams, and Jose Calderon, but none of them had the same success as Kyle Lowry is having.
In four years as a Raptor Lowry has averaged 17.1ppg, FG 41.6%, 3PT 36.7%, 6.8apg, 4.7rpg, 1.7spg.
So how could Lowry’s future as a Raptor be in jeopardy?
After this season Kyle Lowry will be able to opt-out of his contract.
The only way I could see him opting-in is if he had a massive injury, and no one should wish for that. Mike Conley, a fellow point guard, got a max deal from the Memphis Grizzlies this summer that will pay him over $30M/YR. Kyle Lowry is at least as good as Mike Conley, if not better, so it would be hard to imagine Lowry getting less than that. The cap is expected to go up again next summer meaning a max contract would be more than $30M/YR.
Is Kyle Lowry worth a max contract?
In his current state, it’s hard to argue against it.
However, Lowry will be 31 next year and will probably be signing his last NBA contract. A decline in his game will happen at some point. If Lowry signs a 5-year max deal to stay with the Raptors it might look fine for the first 2 years of that deal, but somewhere in years 3, 4, or 5 that max deal will become unmovable. If it were year 5, eating the contract for 1 year wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario. However, if it was year 3 it could be a disaster.
What about older players that have had success in the NBA?
Guys like Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are the exceptions and even they had to change their roles’ to prolong their careers. They transitioned from superstars to role players, which is the best-case scenario for an NBA player in their mid-30s. So there’s a chance Kyle Lowry can transition to a role player as he begins to age. However, there are a lot of NBA players that weren’t able to keep their careers’ alive when an injury hit (which becomes harder to come back from as an NBA player ages). Some examples include Cuttino Mobley, Tracy McGrady, Terrell Brandon, Jay Williams, Brandon Roy, TJ Ford, Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis and Penny Hardaway. All these players’ careers abruptly ended. Now I’m not saying that will happen to Kyle Lowry, but as he gets older the odds of a career ending injury increases dramatically.
What if Kyle Lowry took a discount to stay with the Raptors?
He could take a small discount similar to what DeMar DeRozan did this summer, but that doesn’t really change the outlook of a long-term massive contract.
Is there a chance Lowry gets traded before the deadline this season?
It would be very unlikely. The Raptors window is now and Kyle is arguably the best player on the Raptors. Given his age and ability to opt-out at the end of the season it would be extremely hard to imagine the Raptors getting even 75 cents on the dollar for him via trade.
Can the Raptors just let Lowry walk after this season?
It would be really hard to replace him and it’s not like the Raptors can pay another younger point guard max money they don’t own the bird rights to. If the Raptors saw something out of Delon Wright this season to give them reason to believe he could be the point guard of the future, that would be great. However, Delon Wright is currently recovering from a labral tear in his right shoulder he had surgically repaired and could miss half the season.
It seems like the Raptors could be entering a situation where they are doomed if they bring Kyle Lowry back and doomed if they don’t. Masai Ujiri, GM of the Toronto Raptors, has pulled a rabbit out of a hat before. Some examples include trading Bargnani for a top 10 pick, trading Rudy Gay for Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, & Chuck Hayes, trading Salmons for Lou Williams & Bebe, trading Vasquez for a 1st & (Norman Powell) 2nd rd pick, and signing Bismack Biyombo at a low cost.
So if there is anyone that can figure the solution to Kyle Lowry’s impending free agency it is Masai Ujiri.