Let me preface this by saying Kyle Lowry is a good player. This season in Toronto he’s been pretty darn productive, averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 assists per game. Lowry is a great playmaker and a streaky shooter capable of taking over a game single-handedly when he gets a hot hand. He’s certainly a starting caliber point guard in the NBA and at just 27 years old, he’s got a ton of basketball left in him. The Toronto Raptors made it pretty clear they’re looking to move him and go into full tank mode when they sent Rudy Gay packing last week (and got a point guard in return as well). A player of Lowry’s caliber is sure to draw some attention from teams, and throughout this past week media outlets have mentioned several potential suitors, including the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn, of course, seems to be in the middle of these things whenever they leak. According to Adrian Wojnaroski of Y! Sports, in order to acquire Lowry the Nets would need to send Toronto a package including stretch power forward Mirza Teletovic, second year point guard Tyshawn Taylor and the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, one of the best players in Europe right now. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is.
Again, Lowry is a nice player. But he’s a free agent at the end of the season. Do the Nets really want to put themselves through another Gerald Wallace-type situation again? Wallace, of course, was foolishly traded for a lottery pick that ended becoming Damian Lillard, a budding superstar. What made things worse was Brooklyn’s decision to compound the mistake by giving Wallace, an aging vet with waning athleticism, a four-year deal worth $40 million. That contract is now one of the worst in the league, and Brooklyn really didn’t have a choice. After all, you can’t let a player you’ve just invested a lottery pick in walk at the end of the season, can you?
That’s where the Nets would end up with Lowry. There may not be a lottery pick involved in Woj’s proposed deal, but Bojan Bogdanovic is currently averaging 17.3 points per game in Europe while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor, 41.5 percent from 3 and 88.9 percent from the line. Mirza Teletovic was a big time scorer overseas as well and he’s shown flashes so far in 2013-14 for the Nets. Tyshawn Taylor may not be highly regarded as a prospect, but he’s had big games as a pro in his short tenure in the league and is still young enough to improve. These are tradable commodities. If the Nets send away these assets, the few assets they have left, then Kyle Lowry is going to have general manager Billy King over a barrel. Brooklyn would acquire Lowry’s Bird rights, which means the Nets could circumvent the salary cap in order to sign him this offseason. What does all mean? For Brooklyn, it means they’ll have an extremely expensive, virtually untradeable, injury-prone backup point guard on their roster with next to nothing left in tangible trade assets.
Now, is it possible Toronto is using the Nets as leverage to get another team to give up more for Lowry? A team like, say, the Knicks, who are in a similarly desperate state? Of course. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri has already done this to the Knicks in the past while in Denver with Carmelo Anthony. At that point, the Nets, a bad team still more than a year away from Brooklyn, weren’t a real threat. In this case, they may be.
Similarly, could Billy King just be posturing in order to make New York pay top dollar in a trade? Possibly, but after seeing King work the last few seasons, that type of gamesmanship seems unlikely. The reality of it is, the Brooklyn Nets are probably interested. On the court, it does makes some sense. Shaun Livingston has fallen off of a cliff after a solid start as Deron’s primary backup this season and Tyshawn Taylor has been inconsistent in limited opportunities. Lowry would be a clear upgrade off the bench for a team that actually used Paul Pierce as a point guard for stretches against the Detroit Pistons. In theory, Lowry could also play minutes alongside Deron Williams, who has shown an ability to be an asset in a half court offense when playing off the ball.
In the end, however, this isn’t a move thats going to put Brooklyn in a much better position to succeed. Billy King, under the orders of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, has made this bed. Can this team contend for a title? it’s still too early to tell. They’ve shown signs of life and if they want to make a real splash before the trade deadline, they need to be much more patient with the few assets they have. Because if swinging a Lowry trade doesn’t put Brooklyn in the championship conversation, it could cost them dearly in the near future.