Kyle Lowry has lost all negotiation leverage against Toronto Raptors

Feb 14, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts during the first half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts during the first half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

With every passing move in the league, Kyle Lowry’s leverage to negotiate a max salary is slipping through his fingers before he even has a meeting with the Toronto Raptors.

Kyle Lowry‘s tenure with the Toronto Raptors is a question I wake up to every morning. I wake up, check twitter, scroll past all the New York Knicks nonsense, searching and scrounging for anything Lowry related.

The question of whether he’ll re-sign is palpable with every transaction that happens outside of the Raptors. And with every passing move in the league, it’s evident Lowry’s leverage to negotiate a max salary is slipping through his fingers before he even has a meeting with Masai Ujiri.

You don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you have leverage to negotiate and Lowry’s leverage has all but disappeared underneath him. Any scary locale that was used to make the Raptors pay up is stocked with a point guard of the future and the further along teams don’t need him.

At the beginning of the offseason, there were legit destinations to fear Lowry leaving for. The Philadelphia 76ers were a potential home, until they moved up in the draft. The 76ers went from deciding between prospects to continue the process in Josh Jackson and Jason Tatum, to picking Markelle Fultz to help finally complete it.

Philly is looking to build for the future and dominate in the year 2021 to infinity, not 2018, which is around the time Lowry will be a corspe. And to add on top of that, they needed a point guard that could play off-ball and on-ball.

Conceptually, Lowry could function as an off-ball player because of his three-point shot, but he’s a true primary ball handler. Chilling on the wing while watching Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons go to work doesn’t seem like his forte considering he had a 24.9 percent usage rating this year.

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Philadelphia could pay Lowry, but they don’t have any reason to. Fultz’s youth makes him a perfect fit for the movement in Philly – the process is complete, now it’s time to start building.

The Brooklyn Nets are the boogeyman for any free agent, because of their barren roster and fertile cap space. Are you a scorned free agent from an incumbent franchise that wont give you the max? Come on down and join the Nets, where the fans are non-existent and you have no chance at winning anything in the near-future.

It is a gorgeous location for any free agent, especially point guards. Who doesn’t want to go to a team for max dollars and no responsibility? If Lowry perceived any offer by Masai Ujiri as a low-ball he could always threaten to leave to the Nets, at least that was until D’Angelo Russell got traded there.

Again, it’s hard to usurp young talent  on upstart teams when you’re an aging point guard. Unless you’re Chris Paul (and even now it may not be possible).

A spry, young point guard with tons of untapped potential will always be the apple of the franchises eye. Now that Brooklyn has a true building block towards the next good Nets team, it would be an irreparable mistake to place someone in front of him.

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The Spurs also make sense, but there’s no interest. Never mind that the Spurs would need Pau Gasol to decline his player option, Tony Parker to retire and to trade Danny Green, Lowry would still have to take a pay cut to join the squad. Sure they’re trying to compete now with Kawhi Leonard and aging parts, but it’s hard to justify stunting Dejounte Murray‘s development to take a stab at toppling the Warriors.

The Spurs are almost a perpetual 60-win team and they won 61 with the ghosts of Parker and Manu Ginobli making significant contributions. An addition of Lowry wont put them over the top and he’s not necessarily the Spursian player we know and love as a NBA collective.

Leonard was a league leader in isolation scoring last year and adding Lowry to the squad could turn them into Raptors West, but with better coaching. Coach Popovich has coached teams like that before, but that was in the 90’s. Even in his old age Pop has been an NBA progressive and always will be, just like his nemisis Mike D’Antoni.

D’antoni has coached a fast-paced ball movement and three-point infused offence ever since he’s been in the league and it would make sense for the Houston Rockets to chase after Lowry.

However the same problems present themselves as they do in Philly – it’s hard to make a ball dominant guard fit another ball dominant player. Patrick Beverly is the perfect compliment to James Harden, who can’t defend a shadow but wants the ball 24/7.

Don’t forget the Houston Rockets don’t have enough space to just take Lowry in. A combination of Beverly, Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson would have to be vacated, just to make the space to sign Lowry.

The Raptors fan base and franchise were given a scare when it was reported Lowry had no interest in coming back to Toronto, until he immediately refuted that report.

And now that most of the dust has settled around Lowry’s possible destinations, it’s clear his oasis of teams have dried up, which is bad for negotiations. Realistically, where could Lowry go other than Toronto? Chicago? The team is significantly worse and doesn’t have enough money to offer the max.

Without a doubt Lowry wants to be paid on a max length deal, but all of his free agency cards have been shunted out of his hand before it was his turn to play. Ujiri is a tough customer when it comes to all facets of being a GM.

He’s patient and shrewd when navigating the salary cap, player contracts and trades. So when he sees bargaining chips slowly sliding off his opponent’s side of the table, he gives it a nudge to see how much more he can glean.

Five years and $200 million+ is an overpay for Lowry, he’ll be worth that contract for probably only two years of it and the rest will be a gratuity payment for what he’s done for the franchise. Some GM’s are willing to pay that gratuity for a franchise changing player, but Ujiri doesn’t strike me as one of those people, especially when the Toronto Raptors haven’t won a championship yet.

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And now with even less pressure to do so, that contract could get a couple of years shorter. How about two years + a player option at the max? No? Where else is Lowry going to go?