Right now, Kyle Lowry is the driving force of the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan matters; Jonas Valanciunas counts; the various role players amount to a lot in combination. But as anyone from in or outside the organization will tell you: as Lowry goes, so go the Raptors. (Those are in fact the exact words GM Masai Ujiri used to describe Lowry’s presence.
Yesterday, Woj of the Vertical published a new feature with Lowry on his off-season, his recent history, and his current status with Toronto. It’s a good read, with the main takeaway involving the contract status of Lowry. (Which, by the way, Kyle has said he will not talk about during the season.)
Here’s what Lowry had to say:
“If you’re that franchise’s guy, and you’re the guy that they’ve been rolling with, and you’ve given that franchise everything you have, yeah, I think [the talks] should be easy,” Lowry told The Vertical. “I think it should be a situation where a guy shouldn’t have to talk to another team. DeMar didn’t have the chance to talk to another team.
“For me, I think that at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 – something should be close. If not, I’m open to seeing what else is out there.”
Lowry plans, of course, to opt out of his current deal which would pay him $12 million per season for the next two years. With the NBA salary cap booming, and his skills and value rising commensurately, Lowry is in line for a huge pay day.
The question continues to be if it’s in the Raptors’ best interests to pay a 30-year-old point guard — now the oldest player on the team — max money for the next 4-5 years. It seems likely Lowry will not be as good as he is now by, say, year three of this potential deal. It is the defining referendum for this iteration of the Raptors, and coincides with the team’s longest run of sustained success. Lowry is the key.
Like DeRozan, who just got paid, Lowry sounds like he wants to re-sign in Toronto. The optics of this are good, seeing as how the team has never had this kind of clout or cachet. But what it means for Toronto’s championship hopes, its future, and the next stage of the team’s evolution, is still very much in the air.