With head coach Dwane Casey now safely in the bag after agreeing to a three-year contract extension on Monday, GM Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors have shifted the majority of their collective focus towards retaining the largely irreplaceable services of the franchise’s resident spark plug, point guard Kyle Lowry.
Minus either the offensive progression of DeMar DeRozan, the low-post play of Jonas Valanciunas, or the steady defensive presence of Amir Johnson, the Raptors wouldn’t be the same team heading into next season. But make no mistake, Lowry is the straw that stirs Toronto’s drink.
Having said that, every player has a ceiling as to their respective value that’s built on the foundation of their most recent performance, and it’s no secret that Lowry showed up to camp in the best shape of his career ahead of his final year under contract and season-long audition for potential suitors throughout the league.
So considering the circumstances that led to the 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds that Lowry averaged during the season, is he worth more than the $6.2 million that he banked for 2013-14? If so, how much more will Toronto have to spend in order to avoid losing the fiery guard?
At the top of the point guard pyramid, the Los Angeles Clippers‘ Chris Paul reigned supreme this past season with a salary of $18,688,431, followed by the Brooklyn Nets‘ Deron Williams, who made $18,466,130. Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls followed, pulling in $17,632.688 US.
We know that on the hardwood, Lowry doesn’t come close to guys like Paul, Rose, or Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who raked in $14,693,906 in 2013-14. And comparing him to a less developed, but better scoring point guard such as John Wall of the Washington Wizards isn’t accurate for a number of obvious reasons.
Of course, Lowry’s recent performance during Toronto’s first-round tilt against the Nets has only driven interest in the Raptors’ floor general, and among others who expressed a desire to add him to their roster during the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are the most likely to lure the veteran out of Canada.
Less than two months shy of becoming a free agent on the first day of July, Lowry’s comments during Monday’s press conference gave Raptors fans the only assurance that they could have realistically hoped for, and overall, left the impression that Toronto’s fearless leader will indeed be back in the fall:
”It’s very difficult, but at the end of the day it’s still a business and you have to be a businessman for the situation that you’re in. But I am very happy. This has been one of the best seasons I’ve had through and through. Best coaches, teammates, [executives]. It’s been great. I am happy. Without a doubt, I can say I’m happy.”
Hopefully, Lowry’s extensive use of the word ”happy” is an accurate sign of his intentions, otherwise, the delicate chemistry that propelled the Raptors to the playoffs could lose its most essential ingredient.