I think it’s safe to assume that since the free agency period began at 12:01 a.m. EST on July 1, Toronto Raptors fans have been focused on just one thing: when will Kyle Lowry make his decision?
The 28-year-old point guard is one of the most sought after players on the market this summer and is drawing interest from teams with designs on winning the championship next season.
After registering career-highs in both points (17.9) and assists (7.4) in 2013-14 and leading the charge all the way to the Raptors’ first playoff appearance since 2008, Lowry has created a demand for himself throughout the league.
In a lot of ways, the skilled floor general has done more than just raising his own popularity. He has also managed to bring some positive attention to what both he and the Raptors were able to accomplish this season.
Despite the jolt in talent that Lowry would provide to backcourts on many of the 30 teams, not everyone is lining up right away to secure his services. Some teams, such as the Lakers, Bulls, and Mavericks, might have an interest in Lowry, but their plans are going to be tied up in the decisions made by LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
However, according to reports, there are a select few teams that recognize a legitimate need for Lowry and probably feel they could provide a desirable situation for him.
1. Miami Heat
Everyone knows the Miami Heat are desperate to upgrade the talent level on their roster in an effort to convince King James to return to the fold. Four years ago, James could hardly wait to jump ship for a chance to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade for what they presumed would be an unprecedented run of NBA titles.
Now it is clear that Miami faces the real possibility of losing James, if he isn’t sold on the additions they are able to make.
One of the areas of weakness for the Heat this season, especially glaring in the NBA Finals, was at point guard, where Mario Chalmers was somewhat underwhelming. Chalmers is no longer under contract to the Heat, which means they have good reason to be seeking help in the free agent market.
Lowry’s name has been linked to Miami as a possible candidate to team up with the Big Three, which is something that makes sense on many levels. Although Lowry would likely have to accept a salary below his market value, the obvious appeal would be in teaming up and chasing rings with James in a city that has warm winters.
As per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Heat are trying to arrange a meeting with Lowry, but apparently that hasn’t happened yet.
I would be surprised if Lowry didn’t end up honoring the Heat’s request for a meeting to at least hear what they have to say. But it’s interesting to note that a player is not immediately jumping at the chance to listen to offers from a team that has made four-straight NBA Finals appearances.
Perhaps the Heat need Lowry more than he needs them, because really their end game is to re-sign James.
2. Houston Rockets
Returning to the Houston Rockets would be a strange move to the extent that they traded Lowry to the Raptors two years ago. The general perception is that he didn’t get along with coach Kevin McHale and had fallen down on the depth chart.
Considering that history, it doesn’t seem like the greatest fit, but maybe that’s all just water under the bridge.
Even if McHale and Lowry could get along, the fact remains that the Rockets back-court would become overcrowded with Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley also in the mix. In all likelyhood, the Rockets would have to first trade Lin and the roughly $15 million he is owed in the remaining year on his contract in order to make room for Lowry.
The Rockets already traded Omer Asik to clear some cap space, but that was seemingly with an eye towards luring James or Anthony, not Lowry. The addition of Lowry and, if possible, another top-tier free agent to pair with James Harden and Dwight Howard would make the Rockets a formidable contender.
Then again, the Rockets are also faced with the decision of whether to retain restricted free agent Chandler Parsons if he receives a lucrative offer from another team.
If Lowry’s sole motivation is to win a championship, I’m not convinced that Houston would be his best bet.
3. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have been completely transparent in saying that Lowry is their top priority this summer and, as far as I can see, the interest seems to be genuine and mutual.
Of all the teams courting Lowry, the Raptors probably have the least amount of selling to do. Lowry knows how much the Raptors value him and probably has a good sense of their vision for the future. So it’s really just a matter of whether Lowry wants to buy into the plan.
By and large, I think the Raptors are competing more against themselves in this process than they are against the other suitors, however attractive those destinations might be.
The Raptors have placed an extremely high value on Lowry — one that other teams won’t be able to match, no matter how hard they try.