There was some speculation leading up to free agency that Toronto would make an effort to re-sign veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, but comments made on Friday by the six-time All-Star and by Raptors general manager Bobby Webster suggested both sides felt the time was right to move on, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.
“I think the direction Toronto is going in is they want to give the opportunities to (Fred VanVleet), Pascal (Siakam), OG (Anunoby), a couple young guys, the young draft picks they have,” Lowry told reporters. “They have some great core pieces. They’re in great hands and great shape. It was a situation for me where it was an opportunity to do something different… It’s time to turn the page in the book.”
Webster conveyed a similar sentiment: “You probably could see (during the 2020/21 second half) the direction the team was going in, and jumping up in the draft to get the fourth pick, philosophically, I think going young became kind of a more desirable path.”
Once they recognized Lowry would be moving on, the Raptors could’ve decided to let him walk in order to open up cap room to pursue a free agent. However, that path offered less certainty, especially if the team made an offer sheet to a restricted free agent (such as Jarrett Allen) not knowing whether it would be matched. The Raptors preferred to acquire Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwavia a sign-and-trade with the Heat, Lewenberg writes.
“Precious is a huge part of this deal for us,” Webster said. “We really liked him last year in the draft so I think that was a huge get in the sense of a young player that we like and fits.”
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Throughout the week, there were rumors that Toronto may try to flip Dragic to a third team after acquiring him via sign-and-trade. Webster said on Friday that’s not Plan A. “Obviously, if we got an offer that was too good to refuse we’d listen but ultimately we want Goran here,” the Raptors’ GM said, per Lewenberg. “He’s happy to be here, obviously he’s been able to carve out a very nice career for himself. Talking to (team president) Masai (Ujiri), talking to everyone here, we’ve watched him a ton and I know a lot of people have seen him kill us. As a basketball player, as a vet, he provides a lot of value to us.”
- After his new three-year deal with the Raptors was formally announced on Friday, Canadian center Khem Birch told reporters he was focused throughout free agency on returning to the team, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. “It feels like a dream come true,” Birch said. “It’s so surreal right now … just one of those free agencies where I knew where I wanted to go. I don’t even know what other teams were interested in me. I just wanted to come here regardless of the price or the years or anything. I just knew this was a great fit. I’m just happy I’m here.”
- The Raptors will generate a traded player exception as a result of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade to Miami. It’ll be worth somewhere between $4.8MM and $7.7MM, depending on the specific structure of Lowry’s new contract, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
- Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum confirmed that Masai Ujiri‘s new vice chairman title won’t give him an ownership stake in the franchise, but said it reflects his standing in the organization. “I chair the Raptors, but it’s just a recognition that we’re really working together,” Tanenbaum said. “We’re partners.”
- Tanenbaum added in the same interview that the team’s plan is to have Lowry retire as a Raptor down the road and to retire his number. “He will retire as a Raptor and his number will absolutely go up there,” Tanenbaum said. “The honor will be the first one (for the Raptors) and I love Kyle.”
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