The future of Toronto Raptors legend Kyle Lowry is up in the air, but whatever decision is made this off-season could be the key to the team’s success next season.
Since joining the Toronto Raptors in 2012, Kyle Lowry has been one of the most consistent performers in the team’s history and could be in serious consideration for a jersey retirement when his playing career eventually ends.
Even during a season of uncertainty over his future, seeing the 35-year-old come close to being dealt at the trade deadline, Lowry has maintained solid numbers for the Raptors, averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds (4.7 defensive) and 7.2 assists per game.
The decision to keep Lowry around beyond the deadline has raised the question of whether or not the six-time NBA All-Star could return on another one-year deal with a Raptors team seeking to return to competitiveness after a season of difficulties with injuries, illness and a temporary relocation due to Covid.
Lowry, and whether or not he re-ups with the Raptors, could be a deciding factor in how competitive the team can truly become when the 2021/22 season rolls around.
As seen in recent games, a fully healthy Toronto Raptors line-up can be as competitive as they have been over the past few seasons, with Lowry playing a key role with 34.6 minutes averaged over his 41 starts.
Having Lowry in the line-up certainly helps the team, not only in terms of actual points and performances but also in spirit and overall morale, with the Philadelphia native considered an adoptive son of the city of Toronto, with many within the fanbase delighted in the fact that he would see out this season with the team.
His recent comments on missing Toronto could also give rise to hopes that he is keen on returning for another year, giving fans a chance to give him a legitimate send-off after having such a significant impact throughout his career.
The biggest question mark on this, however, is at what dollar amount Lowry would be willing to return at, with the Raptors fairly tight against the cap next season while needing to make significant additions to the roster.
If Lowry is willing to take a team-friendly deal to have his own ‘Last Dance’ in Toronto, allowing them to add a big-name free agent, or make a significant trade to acquire a player such as Bradley Beal, then there is no question that he will be back with the Raptors.
However, if the veteran point guard is seeking another deal around $30 million again, then his future is likely written on the wall and the Raptors will need to make even more changes prior to next season to fill the hole left by such an influential player.
Regardless of what the team’s intentions are before the end of this season, whether they would be content with sneaking into the play-ins or getting a higher draft pick, the Toronto Raptors need to be looking ahead to what they will do with Lowry and the potential impact it could have on performances.