But regardless of what happens on June 26, retaining the services of Kyle Lowry remains the franchise’s primary concern this summer, and a failure to ensure that the fiery guard will be running the ACC floor next season could seriously limit Toronto’s ability to continue its climb toward becoming one of the Eastern Conference’s best.
There’s no denying the production that Lowry brought to the table in the final year of his contract, in which the high-scoring ball handler made roughly $6.2 million. And despite a reputation for being immature and at times tough to coach, the former Big East standout performed like a seasoned veteran in 2013-14.
Because Lowry was basically playing to earn a new contract, however, many feel that the career-highs of 17.9 PPG, 7.4 APG, and 4.7 RPG he posted last season don’t paint an accurate picture of the player that Toronto would essentially be paying to keep, which is sure to make the negotiation process even more difficult.
But after Lowry’s breakout campaign resulted in an increased interest from other teams throughout the league, early reports indicated that the Raptors’ floor general is looking for a salary in the neighborhood of $10-12 million per season over four years, a substantial raise for a player who currently owns fairly pedestrian career averages of 11.7 PPG, 5.4 APG and 3.8 RPG.
That’s the serious and potentially expensive risk that Ujiri and the Raptors would be taking if they do re-sign Lowry. If the former first-round draft pick reverts to his old self either on the court statistically or in the locker room, there’s no way that Lowry will be worth the kind of money.
While losing him would obviously hurt on both sides of the ball, the cold fact remains that Toronto is likely to re-sign Greivis Vasquez this summer, and securing the energetic reserve means that Lowry’s departure would no longer guarantee a chemistry-killing death sentence for a franchise that has finally turned things around.
Other than Toronto, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be the leading candidate to land Lowry’s services. But until July 1 when he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent, speculation will continue to lead the debate surrounding Lowry’s future, and in the end, Ujiri and the Raptors may feel that the asking price is simply too high.
Ty is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldTy.