Kyle Lowry is no dummy.
This is a guy who has been in the NBA for 11 years, who was the 24th pick in the 2006, just behind Josh Boone and well behind his Villanova teammate, sixth pick Randy Foye. Lowry had to battle Mike Conley for playing time in his early days in Memphis, and he did not come upon his first major NBA contract until he re-signed with the Raptors in the summer of 2014, inking a four-year deal worth $48 million.
Lowry has made three All-Star teams since. Last summer, though, he watched teammate DeMar DeRozan sign what was, at the time, the second-biggest deal in NBA history, for $139 million. That was then topped by the then-biggest contract in history, $153 million for Conley.
You’d understand if Lowry was frustrated. In his long career, he has made just about $70 million total. He knows a bit about being undervalued.
But he also knows how the market works, and heading into free agency this summer (he opted out of the final year of his last contract), he’s got to keep his options open. Thus, when Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur pointed out that Lowry had been telling people last month that he had “zero interest” in staying in Toronto, Lowry quickly jumped in to contradict that notion on Twitter, saying “that B.S. FOR SURE didn’t come from me.”
I dont do this ever but :
Don't believe what you hear !! Especially if it didn't come from me, and that bs FOR SURE didn't come from me..GN
— Kyle Lowry (@Klow7) June 20, 2017
Maybe not, but Arthur is a respected columnist who doesn’t traffic in spurious rumors. If the I’m-outta-here sentiment did not come from Lowry himself, it likely came from some member of Lowry’s team. And it needed to be reined in, quickly.
Lowry is pragmatic, and he’s been briefed on the potential market for his services. It’s not exactly bustling. There was some hope that the Sixers would make a push toward signing Lowry this summer, bringing him home to Philadelphia. That rumor, though, did not come from the Sixers, who are not that eager to bring in a 31-year-old point guard as part of their rebuilding efforts.
Philly’s acquisition of the No. 1 pick, to be used on Markelle Fultz, has sealed that notion. Now, even those in Lowry’s camp hoping to use a potential departure to Philadelphia as free-agency leverage can’t possibly push the Sixers as a realistic destination.
There is not a long line of suitors for Lowry otherwise. Too many of the teams with cap space — the likes of the Nets, Lakers, Kings and Pacers — are rebuilding or are preparing to rebuild with youth. Sources indicate that there’s a chance the Knicks could pursue Lowry, but he lists winning as one of his free-agent criteria, and that would eliminate New York. Furthermore, the treatment of stars Carmelo Anthony and now Kristaps Porzingis (a fellow Andy Miller client) by the Knicks have not made the organization particularly attractive to free agents.
The one team to watch could be the Nuggets, who potentially have an acre of cap space this summer and are looking to make a big-splash free-agency pickup that can help build on the success they showed last season. Denver would like to upgrade at point guard specifically, and Lowry would fit that bill.
One source with knowledge of their free-agent plans said, “I don’t think anything is off the table,” pointing to Denver’s surprise recruitment of Dwyane Wade last summer as a template.
But the Nuggets alone do not make up a wide market for Lowry’s services, and that brings things back to Toronto. Lowry has been frustrated with the Raptors’ inability to break through in the East, something that is not likely to change as long as the Cavaliers stay intact. Regardless of frustration, though, Lowry won’t find many better options than sticking with the Raptors.