After months of being mentioned in various trade rumors, Kyle Lowry reportedly agreed to sign a one-year, $31 million extension with the Toronto Raptors, delaying his eligibility for free agency until the summer of 2021, ESPN reported on Monday. While this doesn’t appear to be the exact contract extension the veteran point guard was looking for, a newer report suggests that the offer was enough to prevent him from forcing a trade to another team.
As reported by Sportsnet on Monday, the news of the extension came after Lowry didn’t take part in training camp and ruled himself out of this week’s pair of exhibition games against the Houston Rockets in Tokyo. These, as noted, were among the signs that backed up rumors that the 33-year-old backcourt star would hold out until he received an extension from the Raptors. It was also mentioned that Lowry apparently planned to force a trade at some point in the future if he still failed to come to terms with Toronto.
“Part of Lowry’s slow playing training camp was driven by an effort to maintain some control of his destiny. If the Raptors weren’t going to give him an extension, sources close to Lowry say, he was prepared to hold out and try and force a deal to a destination of his choosing rather than allow the club to control the timing.”
According to Sportsnet, the one-year extension Lowry agreed to was a compromise of sorts, given that the five-time All-Star was reportedly asking for a three-year deal when he and the Raptors began to negotiate on terms this summer. The outlet suggested that team president Masai Ujiri may have been reluctant to “bet big money” on Lowry maintaining his All-Star level of play beyond his mid-30s.
With Lowry looking to remain with the Raptors for the next two seasons or so, Toronto appears to be planning ahead for the 2021 offseason, when the likes of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo are expected to be among the available free agents that summer. As for the coming offseason, Sportsnet added that it might not be an issue if Lowry will be taking up a great deal of cap space until his contract expires, as next year’s free-agent class “doesn’t include the kind of players the Raptors would likely be looking to dole out max-type deals to.”
Although the Raptors may still find it difficult to repeat as NBA champions without 2018’s top acquisition, Kawhi Leonard (now with the Los Angeles Clippers), Lowry played a key role in the team’s recent playoff runs, most notably scoring 26 points and adding 10 rebounds and seven assists as Toronto won Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals, per Bleacher Report. Last season, he averaged a well-rounded 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for a Raptors team that finished 58-24 in regular-season action.