As a guest on CJ McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast last week, former Raptor Kyle Lowry (still weird to type that) provided some insight into what happened at the trade deadline in March when everyone expected Toronto to move its starting point guard to a contending team.
According to Lowry, the front office had an open line of communication with him throughout the process and even gave him the choice of picking where he wanted to go. The two teams that emerged as frontrunners to trade for Lowry were Philadelphia and Miami.
The trade packages were underwhelming, and that was part of the reason Lowry ended up staying put in Tampa with the Raptors. But ultimately, it was Lowry’s choice. “I made a decision I didn’t want to be traded,” he told McCollum on the podcast. “I don’t want to leave my guys. I still want to finish the year.”
If the Raptors did leave the final decision to their point guard, it is worth asking whether it was the right move. Instead of getting a return from Philadelphia or Miami, Lowry stayed and played nine games after the deadline, essentially resting the entire second half of the season before heading to free agency.
The Raptors received Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa in a sign-and-trade this summer for Lowry, so they didn’t let the longest-tenured player on their roster go without getting anything in return, but did they extract the most value out of the situation? Unless Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey or Heat forward Tyler Herro was available in a trade package at the deadline, the package Toronto got this offseason is probably on par with what it would have received in March.
It feels like we can finally put an end to the Kyle Lowry era and move on.
Is a Goran Dragic buyout coming?
According to a report from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the expectation is for the Raptors to buy out Goran Dragic and pave the way for the 35-year-old guard to sign with the Dallas Mavericks.
Dragic made some headlines earlier this off-season after he was dealt to Toronto, telling a foreign reporter he had “higher ambitions” than playing for the Raptors. The comments could have been worded better, but no one should blame the Slovenian for his desire at this point in his career to join a team that is closer to contending (another 35-year-old guard who did precisely that this offseason? Kyle Lowry).
Toronto would prefer to find a trade with Dallas (or another potential suitor) to acquire assets in return for Dragic, but might not want to drag the situation out any longer either. The Raptors will prioritize minutes for their younger players this season, which means Malachi Flynn and Gary Trent Jr. are among the guards who can expect to see more minutes than Dragic — assuming he is still around when the season starts.
It seems more and more likely that Dragic won’t be a member of the Raptors by opening night.
Danny Green’s new Raptors tattoo
Shoutout to Danny Green, who got two new tattoos recently to commemorate his championships with the Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Raptors tattoo, in particular, is a masterpiece, with the team’s logo and the CN Tower featured prominently in the design. Green embraced Toronto in his one season north of the border and quickly became a fan favourite, but he still hasn’t received his championship ring yet.
Barring a trade, Green will finally have his moment at Scotiabank Arena in December when the Sixers come to town. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many familiar faces from the championship run left for him to reunite with.
Shoutout to Drake for successfully recruiting Kawhi Leonard
When the Raptors named Drake as their global ambassador almost a decade ago, fans saw it as a stroke of genius as the Toronto-based artist could act as a potential recruiter in free agency. Well, he’s finally done it. After releasing his much-anticipated studio album “Certified Lover Boy” on Friday, Drake successfully recruited Kawhi Leonard… to be in his new music video.
Even with the Kawhi cameo and a Giannis Antetokounmpo reference on the album, it’s hard to dampen the excitement the city of Toronto has about the new album.
Until the Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup again, the two most exciting things in Toronto right now are: whenever Masai Ujiiri has a press conference and whenever Drake drops a new album.
Damn, this might really be a Raptors town now.
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