Although Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have frequently been referred to as close friends on and off the basketball court, a new report suggests that the two guards often butted heads, with the most recent example of friction taking place while the Toronto Raptors were getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals earlier this year.
Clarifying things before getting to the main point of his report on Sunday, Toronto Star writer Dave Feschuk explained that Lowry’s recent cagey attitude with the press should not be misinterpreted as an indicator of how the veteran Raptors point guard feels about DeRozan’s recent move to the San Antonio Spurs. Earlier this month, DeRozan was part of a package the Raptors gave up to the Spurs in exchange for forwards Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, as San Antonio effectively put an end to the long-running issues between the supposedly disgruntled Leonard and team management.
Regarding the friendship between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Feschuk wrote that the two backcourt men dealt with significant tension in the 2017 playoffs after the Toronto Raptors were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. DeRozan, for his part, was reportedly upset that Lowry sat out the last two games of the four-game sweep, while Lowry didn’t appreciate how his teammate appeared to doubt the severity of his ankle injury.
With the help of then-head coach Dwane Casey, DeRozan and Lowry were reportedly able to clear the air as the 2017 NBA Finals were taking place. The Toronto Star’s Feschuk said that these “peace talks” were a key factor in influencing Lowry to sign a three-year extension with the Raptors in the summer of 2017.
DeRozan isn't talking to Ujiri. Casey isn't talking to Ujiri. Lowry isn't talking to us. This is what’s become of the Raptors’ happy family. Counterpoint: it was never about family, and that's fine. https://t.co/QVOyJEyxWC pic.twitter.com/O5oQmzRcE7— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 27, 2018
The above tensions did not mark the last time that relations were allegedly frayed between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Citing internal sources, Feschuk noted that Lowry was one of several Raptors who were “critical” of DeRozan’s poor defense in the 2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals, as these shortcomings led to his being benched for the entire fourth quarter of Game 3 against the Cavaliers.
Although Feschuk stopped short of suggesting Lowry was an influencing factor in the Raptors’ decision to part ways with DeRozan, he opined that Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are two players whom Lowry might enjoy playing with, due to their strengths on the defensive end. However, his past comments suggest that he wasn’t as upset with DeRozan as described during this year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.
According to the Sporting News, Kyle Lowry defended DeMar DeRozan in the post-Game 3 press conference, telling reporters that Casey simply went with the rotation that was working best for Toronto at that time. He described DeRozan as a “great teammate” who simply had a bad shooting night, yet maintained a positive attitude despite the loss.