Yes, that headline is designed to get you emotional. The Raptors won big last night against the Nuggets, breaking a disastrous nine-game losing streak, but the questions and the mood around the team are still very much directed towards the idea that Toronto could potentially move on for their two longest-tenured players: Norman Powell and the greatest Raptor of all-time, Kyle Lowry.
Like I said: it’s all designed to get you — and all of us — emotional.
The buzz around this situation has, and continues to be, that the Raptors are at least taking calls — with the Sixers, Heat, and maybe even the Lakers in the mix. Toronto’s struggles as of late — and the bizarre and trying situation they’ve been forced into — have put them into a place where it may make sense to pack it in, regroup, reload, and just wait for next season. It’s tough to consider that as the end of the We the North, Kyle Lowry Era of basketball in this city, but all things must end — if not today, then this summer, or in a few years. Yes, those are some major caveats, but they also accurately describe the situation.
As far as what the Raptors can do at this afternoon’s trade deadline, I recommend reading the following two-parter from our guy Daniel Hackett:
- On whether or not the Raptors are buyers or sellers
- On what deals could be there for Lowry and Powell
That should clarify the math and emotions involved — though I won’t tell you what to feel when it comes to the Raptors’ latest cornerstone player, the one figure who has come to define so much of what Toronto basketball is today. For almost a decade we’ve watched the ups and downs of Kyle Lowry, we’ve seen how he’s come to be the icon of this team and this city. And as unlikely as it seemed when he first arrived here — his bags packed at one point to leave! — Lowry is now the greatest Raptor of all time. And perhaps even more importantly, he is now the definitive Raptor to whom all others will be compared.
So, as we look towards this afternoon’s trade deadline at 3pm, we have to weigh what the Raptors’ options are. They could retain Lowry and Powell for now and maybe acquire some other player in a bid to charge into the playoffs. They could trade one or both to acquire what young assets or draft picks they can. Or they can just continue on as is and see what happens.
All paths forward have their pros and cons. And all we can do now is wait.
NBA TRADE DEADLINE OPEN THREAD:
9:00am — So far, nothing to report. We’re sitting pretty!
10:40am — We’ve got a bead on the reported price for Lowry from the two main bidders, e.g. the two most logical teams for him to play out the next bit of his career. Up first, let’s go to the Philadelphia 76ers:
I enjoy the incredulous GIF here. To be frank: the Sixers would love it if all it cost them to get Lowry for the rest of the season is a couple of young players who may never be much, and some late first round picks. Lowry on this latest version of the Sixers would absolutely be a favourite to win the title — and if Philly GM Daryl Morey knows anything it’s that a shot at the championship doesn’t come often. For sure, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle are nice players, but they’re not swinging the title.
Next up, the Miami Heat come in with the Pat Riley Special: a classic low-ball offer!
Robinson is a great shooter and he does have value — e.g. you can never have too many elite shooters — but a deal like this is vintage Riley. He knows it would take more than just Robinson to get a deal done, but he’s going to get into a staring contest with Masai Ujiri anyway (and lose).
In other news: former Raptors point guards Delon Wright and Cory Joseph were swapped last night between the Pistons and Kings. Not a deal that matters much, but fun to note.
We carry on!
1:05pm — The Raptors have made a trade, sending Norman Powell to Portland for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.
Otherwise, the deadline is heating up. Yesterday, the word was that the Raptors were holding up the rest of the league assessing offers for Lowry and Powell. That appears to have gone out the window in the last hour, as the deals are starting to pour in.
The Lowry buzz is starting to centre on the Sixers, and we can assume it’s still looking like the package above. Sportsnet’s Michael Grange is the most confident here in reporting:
Hearing the Sixers are making a late push here for Lowry. ‘On the 1-yard line’ ...— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) March 25, 2021
However, the Sixers made another move as this was going on, acquiring George Hill from Oklahoma City — possibly giving mixed messages about where they are on Lowry talks.
Meanwhile, former Masai Ujiri protege Jeff Weltman is keeping the headlines away from his old boss. The Magic are having a fire sale, and have done a swell job retooling their roster by trading away their sad players. Nikola Vucevic is on his way to Chicago, with Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. among the pieces returning to Orlando. Aaron Gordon has been traded to the Nuggets, with Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a first round pick coming back. Evan Fournier is going to the Celtics for picks.
It might seem like selling hard, but give everyone some credit here. The Magic rebuild around a nice core of Harris, Carter Jr., Jonathan Isaac, and what will certainly be a high first round pick in a loaded draft. The Nuggets solidify their spot with the Western powerhouses by adding Gordon to the Murray-Jokic combo — maybe giving the slighted Orlando forward a chance to shine. Even Chicago, who did another bit of retooling by acquiring Troy Brown and Mo Wagner from Washington, are starting to look like a real playoff team.
1:30pm — Appearing on ESPN, Woj has reported that the Sixers are “out” on Kyle Lowry after acquiring George Hill. The Heat, Lakers, and Clippers are continuing discussions with Toronto’s front office with an hour-and-a-half before deadline.
2:15pm — In what may be a precursor to a Lowry deal, the Raptors have made another trade. Matt Thomas is on his way to Utah, with the Warriors’ 2021 second round pick coming back.
As explored by Josh Kern, this opens up a roster spot for a larger trade as both the Heat and Lakers continue to explore trades for Kyle Lowry.
According to Shams Charania, reporting on Stadium, the hold-ups are the inclusion of Talen Horton-Tucker for Los Angeles and Tyler Herro for the Heat. Existing packages centre on Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Lakers and Duncan Robinson from the Heat.
"The hold up on both teams is the inclusion of Talen Horton-Tucker from the Lakers and Tyler Herro from the Miami Heat."@ShamsCharania has the latest on Kyle Lowry trade talks— Stadium (@Stadium) March 25, 2021
: https://t.co/UOpeZurAFr pic.twitter.com/IWac70pml7
This is moving fast, so now we play the painful waiting game. 45 minutes to go.
3:25pm - Nothing major here, only an official report from Woj saying that the Raptors are not trading Kyle Lowry, the greatest Raptor of all time, at this juncture.
The Raptors are keeping Kyle Lowry, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
We can argue the merits of that decision (I’m fine with it), but that’s that — the deadline has passed and Lowry will be a Raptor until the end of the 2020-21 season.
To remind: the Raptors were asking for Thybulle, Maxey, and two first round picks from the Sixers; they wanted at least Tyler Herro from the Heat; and any deal with the Lakers would have to involve Talen Horton-Tucker, who Lakers fans assure me is good. None of those deals came together.
In the end, Masai Ujiri didn't find a package that compelled him to trade Kyle Lowry -- and Lowry had always been fine with completing the season with the Raptors, sources tell ESPN. Now, Lowry can head to free agency in the summer. https://t.co/JOoY9WMKNf— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Now we have to see what the Raptors will do with their two new open roster spots — e.g. are there buyout options coming? And of course, we’ll look forward to future drafts when the Raptors make use of the new picks they’ve acquired.
One more time: Kyle Lowry Over Everything.