Big year and a bigger decision for Lowry


VIDEO: Kyle Lowry is one of the more coveted free agent point guards on the market

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Kyle Lowry faces the decision of his career: Cash in with the Raptors and maybe one day walk away a Canadian folk hero (you saw those crazed playoff crowds, right?), have faith in the leaky, but legendary Lakers or settle for a mere pittance to play with the King.

But wait, there’s more …

To start free agency at the stroke of midnight Tuesday, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and coach Kevin McHale were in Philadelphia seated in front of Lowry. The two men who shipped Lowry north of the border in the first place were now telling him how perfect he is for the team he actually aided in assembling.

Plotting a path to form a super team in Houston, Morey was hoarding drafts picks and the first-rounder he got from Toronto for Lowry two summers ago was supposed to be another carrot to finally lure Orlando into a deal for Dwight Howard. A month later Howard was traded to the Lakers, and the draft pick wound up in Oklahoma City as part of the package for James Harden. Howard, conveniently, followed as a free-agent acquisition last summer.

As Morey, McHale and Lowry dined, or whatever it is that goes on in these after-midnight meetings, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was working his own plan (reportedly a contract starting around $12 million) to keep the spark plug point guard behind Toronto’s resurgence, a spark plug Ujiri was prepared to trade to New York at the deadline if not for the reluctance of the  Knicks’ former regime to throw in a future first-round draft pick.

Meanwhile, back in South Florida, Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley was maneuvering for his own meeting with free agency’s top point-guard target. The Riley pitch, if he gets to make it, will get straight to the point: Come to Sacrifice City and compete for these shiny rings with LeBron James.

Amazing what a career year will do for a guy’s fortunes. Lowry, not long ago down on his luck, last season averaged career highs in scoring (17.9 ppg), assists (7.4), minutes (36.2) and 3-point percentage (38.0), while tying his career-high in rebounds (4.7).

Many believed Lowry, 28, should have made his first All-Star team of his eight-year career. After the All-Star break he reinforced that notion by averaging 20.4 ppg, 7.1 apg and 5.1 rpg, while maintaining his bulldog approach to defense. The Raptors finished the season 20-10 and won a franchise-best 48 games, finishing above .500 for the first time since 2006-07.

So perhaps a contract starting at $12 million isn’t too high for this big-market franchise desperate to maintain its playmaker and elusive momentum.

Yet becoming just as desperate are the Miami Heat.

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are free agents, too. They’re waiting to finalize new contracts while Riley works to re-tool the roster. Big men, wing depth and a point guard are needed. On Tuesday, Heat target Marcin Gortat reached an agreement to return to the Washington Wizards at a price (five years, $60 million) far too rich for the Heat. Another report stated small forward Luol Deng will not sacrifice pay to play for Miami. A later report had Washington nearing a deal to bring back yet another Heat target, small forward Trevor Ariza.

The aggressive, 6-foot Lowry fits the Heat needs to a T. Only they won’t be able to match the Raptors’ reported offer and fill other needs. Earlier Tuesday, Jodie Meeks agreed to a free-agent deal with the Detroit Pistons for three years and $19 million, a hefty pay raise for a middling player, and one that would make it seem highly unlikely that Lowry could feel good about taking a deal that wouldn’t pay him much more.

The wild card here, as it always is with the Heat, is a lower pay grade is the price to play with LeBron. We’ve seen it with players nearing the end of their careers, but not necessarily from one in his prime.

Lowry has seven postseason games to his name since 2009 back with Houston when he reached the second round. All seven came this past season with Toronto. The Raptors, boasting an emerging star in DeMar DeRozan and rising talents in Terrence RossJonas Valanciunas and restricted free agent Patrick Pattersonlost a heartbreaker to Brooklyn in the first round.

For a franchise that has experienced two winning seasons in the last dozen, and has had its troubles keeping and recruiting star-level players, Lowry would be welcomed back as hero.

But then there’s always LeBron … or the Rockets … or the Lakers …

The decision of Lowry’s career will be coming soon.

24 Comments

  1. Del Curry says:

    Lowry isn’t bolting on Canada, he’s a damn icon up there (a God if he resigns) not to mention the Raptors are pretty legit. They came out of nowhere last year kind of like the Phoenix Suns. Nobody talks about them because they’re not on any American air waves. He’s the floor general of the poor man’s San Antonio Spurs. He’ll flourish only in a team based environment where he can lead by example on the floor. He gets to do that & more in TO. Not to mention having a few extra shillings in your pocket is always alright.

  2. Dunk says:

    @ the Cuban Miami connection….actually you don’t have the best player in the world. You only have a couple of bench Warner’s signed. And if Lebron and co. Don’t get what they want, the Heat will be in the lottery next year.

  3. ian says:

    if lowry leaves toronto, then they need another scoring pointguard…..raptors should make a deal to the rockets to get jeremy lin….

    • Daniel Jacques says:

      If Lowry decides he wants to go to Rockets that might happen but I will be for sure disappointed to have Lin instead of Lowry. Not that I dislike LIn.

    • Daniel Jacques says:

      I would rather Raptors quickly put in a bid for Bledsoe or Thomas and just let Lowry walk if he doesn’t want to play for them.

    • Anthony says:

      Toronto already has another point guard Greivis Vásquez, if Lowry doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, Toronto wouldn’t need to panic. Greivis Vásquez has proven himself on the court especially during the playoffs that he can hit critical shots to gain some of the momentum.

  4. The Wise Guy says:

    I really can’t understand top players. Lowry earned 5.8million dollars at the Raptors.
    He has to choose between more money or some NBA league titles with the money he earned.
    Why go for the money? You mean 6 millions per year is not enough for you? This kind of greed has allowed Heat to destroy everyone.
    Does anyone remember how many millions Jordan earned when he played? NO. Every single fan remembers the six rings he has won.
    So, in my opinion he should DEFINITELY go to play with Lebron.

    • ricardotirado says:

      You could say the very same thing about rings v. millions.
      Lebron is reportedly expecting a 20+ million annual salary for his next contract. Does he really need all that money for the good life in spite of already having earned 30 million dollars as a Beats stockholder?? I dont think so. He is the greatest Basketball player today (Sorry Durant & Kobe) in the nba (and the world), no question about that.
      For the Heat To really go for some quality supporting cast and earn championship titles, he will need to take a reasonable paycut just as Bosh and Wade are expected to. That will lure those players they really need like Lowry. Maybe some more Savvy Managing from Riley will get it done, but on Lebron’s part it will be seen as the ultimate sacrifice to take a paycut despite being the best and deserving top money. It will surely pay off some years later when he finds himself hoisting the championship surrounded by better quality supporting cast. As a Spur fan, I hate myself for saying this because I want them to repeat (and they will). But as a talent critic it will be difficult to argue against the best player and some truly good supporting cast beyond Wade, Bosh, Ray Allen, Haslem, Birdman and co. (Not to forget the coach). No dissrispect on OKC, Clipperland, Grizzlies, Rip City, potential Bulls or even Pacers -they are very awesome too. Fear the Clippers

  5. JD says:

    I’m not sure why any good PG would want to play with Lebron. Lebron is effectively the PG for the Heat. All Lowry is going to do is play defense and spot up for 3 if he signs there.

  6. DatoneRaptorsFanDatsupportstheteamsomuchandthinkthatheywillwinachampionship says:

    Lowry should stay in toronto and be even better then last season. If Lowry leaves (which is hope he dosent) than the Raptors should atleast get another guard. I mean like if Lowry goes to the rockets the raptors should get jeremy lin. I hope lowry dosent leave. GO RAPS GO GO RAPS GO GO RAPS GO GO RAPS GO GO RAPS GO GO RAPS GO

  7. aye says:

    it would be better for lowry to stay in toronto and be a leader on that team along with derozan. he’s a good fit on that team. it’s good for the league to have more competitive teams with the stars spread out. it’s also better for the sport to have good players maximize their potential than being held back playing behind other players or sitting on the bench of stacked teams. that would be a waste of talent. some guys deserve to play more

  8. miami will not get any better w/spo says:

    why should players have to take pay cuts to play with the lame 3? lowry is playing a lot better than wade, so no way should he make less than that gimp just for an easy ride. he is also outplaying bosh. none of them r taking pay cuts, but they expect everybody else to. thats how full of themselves they r. miami does not even taste the east finals next year. how much u wanna bet? the only pitch they have is make a sacirfice to play the wanna be king who thinks he is gods gift to basketball.

  9. Daniel Jacques says:

    You forgot resigning in Toronto to win a championship in the next few years. They are going to be in the upper echelon of teams in the East for sure and in small company so their chances of getting a shot aren’t that bad. I think the Heat are on the down turn despite likely signing James back. If Anthony goes to Chicago there is them. Pacers weren’t really any better in face to face match-ups against Raptors last year. Or the year before and they are getting less talented. Wizards I don’t think will get much better. Cavaliers will never actually get it together. Their teams talent isn’t distributed very well positionally. Also if all hell breaks loss and James goes West and Anthony too. Well then…

  10. Richard says:

    Lowery should stay in TORONTO, they are one of the BEST YOUNG TEAMS IN THE NBA. The rockets want him after they shipped them out if I were Lowery I would not have even met with them. The Heat. Did you see the big three want short term contracts. This means they have seen their better days. Want the spurs did to them really EXPOSED THE HEAT, A CREEKING BATTLE SHIP THAT HAS SEEN IT’S BEST DAYS !!!!!!!

  11. kanuk says:

    nah kimmy, you’re reading too much into these talking-head-media-makers. lowry was never trying to be actively traded at the deadline last year. that’s nonsense.

  12. jrcreek1 says:

    I would not play for any team that has D-Wade making over 10MM, I hope James bails on Wade. Same with Melo, Lowry, and any other free agents. Dont help these losers win rings. James doesnt want to win another ring for Wade or Kobe in my opinion.

  13. underdog says:

    If the Raptors don’t get Lowry back.. they’ll be out of the playoffs for this coming season. Cavaliers and Pistons will be making a strong push for this coming season as SVG will be proving himself, and Irving proving he is worth his contract. BKN and Raptors without Lowry may be the teams not making the playoffs from the past season.

  14. Ed says:

    I know it’d be tough as a point guard to turn down playing with the Miami three plus a decent shooter named Ray Allen, Or even playing with Howard and Harden in Houston but just think about how much more gratifying it would be to stay in Toronto and build off all that was accomplished last year? Stay and own the opportunity to advance in the post season the old fashioned way by earning it as a team.

  15. the cuban -miamian connection says:

    Well hater!….Yes, there is one reason : We happen to have the best player in the World….LBJ…and he is still in his prime
    Are you satisfied?
    Hater

    • haha says:

      best player? debatable.. but obviously not the best team LOL. i agree with comments against joining the heat. it would be a double loss for him to be severely underpaid and not win a ring. perhaps you should ask your boss to pay you nothing more than a dollar a year to cheer for lebronLOL

  16. Kimmy says:

    Out of spite, if I were Lowry, I’d bolt from Canada ASAP. They were definitely going to trade him last season, it was all blasted in the news with daily blow by blows and updates to that. Beat them to the punch then say “how you like me know!”

  17. pl says:

    why are the heat always mentioned? last just proved how vulnerable they are (not that the season prior to that showed they were invulnerable).. so saying to win a ring playing with lebron isn’t a sure thing. for spare change at that. is it the media’s dream that all of the good free agents end up in miami? i’m sure some fans would like to know what other teams/contenders besides miami are doing to prepare for the upcoming season.

    • all for all says:

      Yeah and for that very reason the Heat always reach playoff right?,… troll do your research before trolling idiot..!