The Toronto Raptors have re-signed veteran point guard Kyle Lowry to a 1-year contract extension instead of letting him go to free agency.
Kyle Lowry the Leader of the Raptors
Veteran Kyle Lowry has been the leader of the Toronto Raptors for a long time. Kiwi Leonard led them to a championship but Kyle Lowry was always the leader. Leonard led by example while Lowry does everything a leader needs to. That wasn’t always the case in the first half of his career but it’s a role that he has grown into over the years.
Even when DeMar Derozan was in town, Raptors fans knew who the boss was in the locker room. Now that he has helped the franchise to a first NBA title, they have rewarded him with a new 1-year deal. Lowry was set to hit free agency in July. The new deal means Lowry is owed $64 million dollars if we include the money remaining on his contract this season.
Lowry Could Still Be Traded
This deal doesn’t mean a trade for Kyle Lowry in the future is off the table. He’s going to be 34 years old at the end of the season. There’s also no telling how this season will play out for the defending champs with the loss of Kawhi Leonard. After all, they replaced Derozan with Leonard and now they have neither. While they do have a strong core, with no obvious superstar it’s hard to predict how this season will go.
This is a strong veteran group with championship experience. Even without Kawhi they should have an exceptional defense. How they do offensively is where the uncertainty comes from. They will be hoping Pascal Siakam can take a step up which he has shown the potential to. That said he won’t be Kawhi so this team automatically is not as good as last year.
The East Is Much Stronger
The other problem facing Kyle Lowry and the Raptors is the rest of the East is better. It remains to be seen if the Celtics are better off with Kemba or Kyrie but there are a few teams in the east that have upgraded. The 76ers are a better team on paper than the one the Raptors beat in the Eastern Conference Semi Final. The Pacers are better and so are the Brooklyn Nets. Then there’s the Milwaukee Bucks who still have the reigning league MVP. The Raptors should be in the playoffs they might struggle to host a series.
Lowry Legacy Solidified in Toronto
The Raptors are champions but Toronto is still a hockey town. While that might change in the near future considering the Leafs haven’t won a title since the 60’s it remains the country’s number one support. The reason that’s relevant to Kyle Lowry is that people in a hockey town tend to love hard nosed basketball players.
If you look up and down the Raptors history, tough guys who hustle have always got more love in Toronto than they would get in other cities. The difference with Lowry is that he has actually been an All Star level player for several years. His playoff failures before last year seemed like they might end up defining his Toronto career. Instead he performed when the lights were brightest last year especially in the deciding game of the Finals. Kyle Lowry’s Toronto legacy will be that of a champion.