The Toronto Raptors added guard Lou Williams in a deal with the Hawks Sunday, June 29th that effectively bolsters their bench. To land Williams, the Raptors had to give up John Salmons, a reserve guard. However, Salmons had intangibles that don’t show up in the statline. His leadership and defensive abilities really opened the door for the Raptors surge after the Rudy Gay trade (which Salmons was bundled together with Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes in order to deal away the massive contract of Gay to the Kings).
Despite the 6-12 start, the Raptors went 9-3 right after, and wound their way to a division title and an extremely unlikely playoff berth, led by one Kyle Lowry.
But, Lou Williams, who started in 38 games for the Sixers in the 2009-’10 season, could be an heir apparent to Lowry, the Raptors starting point guard who may as well have been an All-Star last season, who was undeniably the Raptors’ MVP last year, who led them to their first playoff berth since 2007-’08? Lowry is a free-agent this summer, and despite many assuming the Raptors’ re-signing Lowry, this deal for Sweet Lou isn’t making me any bit surer that the Raptors are going to sign their leader.
All-Star (actually) Demar Derozan eased my concern a lot for the time being when he had his post post-season press conference with his daughter when he deflected questions about Lowry’s pending unrestricted free agency (see video –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czlHJz5EnN4 — at 2:56). “I’m not worried about that,” Derozan smiled. “Why would he leave?”
That made me feel like maybe the Raptors and GM Masai Ujiri (left) had a contract in their backpocket, ready to unveil as soon as free agency season opened. But now that the free agent ball has started rolling and Lowry and Ujiri haven’t held a lovey-dovey press conference to announce a deal, as a Toronto basketball fan, I’m concerned… if not slightly worried.
For a full report on what Lowry may want and what the Raptors are willing to offer him, check CBS’s story found here.
In the 2011-12 campaign, Williams led the Sixers in scoring at 14.9 points per game, despite not starting one single game. Yet somehow, he did not win the Sixth Man of the Year Award (finished second).
The Raptors also landed Brazilian Lucas Noguiera, to go alongside their top draft choice from this year’s draft, Bruno Cabloclo. After many observants were screaming “WHO??” after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced their pick, it looks like Masai has a theme goin– and it’s a Brazilian theme.