The Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon saw their season come to an abrupt end in the playoffs falling for a second consecutive year to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once again, the focus immediately shifts to the state of their backcourt at the forefront in the offseason with point guard Kyle Lowry’s future with the Raptors being entirely up in the air.
According to Bobby Marks of The Vertical, Kyle Lowry now has up to a week to decide whether he wants to pick up the $12 million player option for next season.
Kyle Lowry has 7 days to exercise his $12 million player option for 2017-18. Opting out and Lowry would count $18m towards the cap.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) May 7, 2017
The expectation is that Kyle Lowry will decline the option for the 2017-18 season, which will make him an unrestricted free agent this upcoming summer. Toronto can offer Lowry a max deal around $200 million over five years.
Last October, Kyle Lowry had stated to The Vertical that he is “open to seeing what else is out there” on the free-agent market but is also willing to sign a max contract to remain with the Raptors.
“If you’re that franchise’s guy, and you’re the guy that they’ve been rolling with, and you’ve given that franchise everything you have, yeah, I think [the talks] should be easy,” Lowry told The Vertical. “I think it should be a situation where a guy shouldn’t have to talk to another team. DeMar didn’t have the chance to talk to another team.”
However, Lowry heads into the offseason with the bitter taste of falling short yet again in the playoffs to the Cavaliers in disappointing fashion in a clean sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals, marking six consecutive postseason losses to Cleveland dating back to last year.
Keep in mind, Kyle Lowry wasn’t able to play in the final two games of the series due to a sprained left ankle injury. Lowry did string together strong performances in the first two contests averaging 20.0 points on 56 percent shooting from the field with 8.0 assists, but the Raptors still fell by a combined 33 points in those games with the Cavaliers scoring more than 115 points in each instance.
With Toronto seemingly hitting their ceiling due to Cleveland being the standard bearer in the Eastern Conference, ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Kyle Lowry is now considering making the jump back to the Western Conference.
Late-season rumbles that Kyle Lowry will give legit thought to a free-agent switch to the West are sure to rise in volume after this series
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 7, 2017
There could be a slew of Western Conference teams interested in acquiring Kyle Lowry’s services if he indeed wants to make the switch over. Lowry is an All-Star caliber point guard that is coming off his two best statistical seasons, including a career-high 22.4 points this past season. Last December, Lowry set the franchise record with 59 made three-pointers in a month that also consisted of setting another franchise record with 24 straight games with multiple made three-pointers.
As for the Raptors, the team could see much change in terms of the core of the roster with not only Kyle Lowry hitting the free-agent market but as well as forward Serge Ibaka, who finished up the final year of his four-year, $49.4 million deal. If the two were to leave, it would force the Raptors to rebuild the team solely around All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan over the next several seasons. DeRozan had inked a five-year, $139 million deal last summer that contains a player option for the 2020-21 season worth $27.7 million.
Kyle Lowry could become a much sought out player in free agency from more than just his hometown Philadelphia 76ers to other teams such as the New York Knicks and possibly the Los Angeles Clippers should Chris Paul decide to leave.
The San Antonio Spurs could also enter the picture as an option for Lowry if Tony Parker’s tenure with the team comes to an end. Parker suffered a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in Game 2 of the Spurs’ Western Conference semifinals matchup against the Houston Rockets.
Ultimately, all signs point to Kyle Lowry exploring all his options on the free-agent market, and that could realistically mean that he has played his last game in a Raptor’s uniform.
[Featured Image by Tony Dejak/AP Images]