Raptors, Kyle Lowry agree to one-year, $31M extension

The 2019-20 season won’t be a contract year for Kyle Lowry after all, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who hears from agent Mark Bartelstein that the Raptors and their starting point guard have agreed to a one-year contract extension worth $31MM.

The extension will lock up Lowry through the 2020=21 season, putting him on track for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021 and taking another top player off the 2020 market. As a result of the deal, Lowry will no longer be part of the group of Raptors who enter the season on pricey expiring contracts, though Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet still fit that bill.

Lowry publicly expressed his desire for an extension in early August at Team USA’s pre-World Cup camp, and according to Wojnarowski, the Raptors’ brass – including president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster – has been motivated for months to get a deal done. The new extension should be a win-win for the two sides — Lowry gets one last big payday, while Toronto retains its cap flexibility for the ’21 offseason, when several stars are projected to reach free agency.

“We are so appreciative of how Masai and Bobby handled every aspect of this negotiation,” Bartelstein told Wojnarowski. “Once again, they displayed how they look after their players in a first-class manner, especially someone like Kyle who they recognize has such a legacy with the franchise.”

Lowry, who has made the Eastern Conference All-Star team for five consecutive seasons, scored a modest 14.2 PPG in 2018-19, but averaged a career-high 8.7 APG and had some big games during the Raptors’ championship run. In addition to doing the little things on defense (he led all players in the postseason in charges drawn and loose balls recovered), the 33-year-old also memorably opened Game 6 of the NBA Finals by scoring Toronto’s first 11 points.

While Lowry’s cap charge for 2019-20 is about $35M, he may not actually earn quite that much, since he has $1.7MM in likely bonuses tied to individual and team accomplishments. If the Raptors don’t make the Eastern Conference Finals and Lowry doesn’t earn a spot on the All-Star team, his cap hit would be reduced to approximately $33.3MM at season’s end.

Lowry will still have the opportunity to earn some or all of those incentives in the newly-added year of his contract, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who notes (via Twitter) that the usual six-month trade restriction won’t apply to the veteran. Lowry’s new deal doesn’t exceed the limits of an extend-and-trade, since it’s just for one year and doesn’t feature a raise. Still, unless things really go south in Toronto this season, it seems unlikely the Raptors will consider trading the Villanova alum within the next six months.

As for the effect of Lowry’s new deal on Toronto’s 2020 cap space, the club still has a good amount of flexibility, though a lucrative extension for Pascal Siakam by the Oct. 21 deadline would all but eliminate that flexibility. Guaranteed 2020-21 salaries for Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, and Lowry add up to approximately $50M, with cap holds for Siakam and VanVleet pushing that number up to about $75M. The NBA’s latest projection calls for a $116M cap in ’20-21.


By: Luke Adams

One-On-One: The NBA Finals and the aftermath

Yardbarker NBA writers Pat Heery and Sean Keane address the hottest issues in the NBA. This week’s topic: the NBA Finals and the future of the Warriors dynasty.

Heery: Sean,  the Raptors are the 2019 NBA Champions. That six-game series was equal parts exciting, bizarre and sad. Game 6 was an NBA classic. We witnessed Kyle Lowry come out like a bat out of hell, scoring 21 points and recording six rebounds and assists in the first half. We saw Klay Thompson put on a Finals performance of the ages before getting injured, then getting carried into the locker room, then coming back out of the tunnel Willis Reed style to make his free throws, then being ruled out for the rest of the game. (He left in a brace and crutches and was eventually diagnosed with a torn ACL .) Finally, we got to hold our breath in the last seconds as Steph Curry got a decent look in the last 10 seconds in a one-point game.

Kawhi Leonard was spectacular all playoffs and took home the title, his second Finals MVP, and some would argue, the Best Player in the World Belt. Fred VanVleet was one of the best five players in this series. Pascal Siakam, who won the Raptors Game 1 by going 14-of-17 from the field and 32 points, had a clutch Eurostep in the final 30 seconds and scored 26 points and grabbed 10 boards in 46 minutes. Lowry and Serge Ibaka were great in the last four games.

Sean, give me your eulogy for the Warriors’ injury-riddled Finals run this season and your thoughts on last night’s game.

Keane:  It’s a woulda, coulda, shoulda kind of ending for the Warriors, who through the playoffs dealt with KD’s Achilles, Boogie’s ruptured quad tendon, Kevon Looney’s shattered collarbone and the injury gods’ repeated assaults on Klay Thompson’s ankle, knee and hamstring. Yet they still had a chance to force a Game 7 with the greatest three-point shooter of all time firing away as the game ended.

If you were trying to make the super-team Warriors interesting and sympathetic again, this is how you’d do it. Take away an All-Star, then take away another one, and see how they react. They managed to beat the Rockets on the road short-handed, came back from double-digit leads against the Blazers and almost pulled out Game 6 with Quinn Cook and Shaun Livingston on the floor.

The weirdest part of the run was their near lack of home-court advantage at Oracle Arena — they were 6-5 at home and 8-3 on the road. It’s almost as if they wanted to pay tribute to the main thing that happened over the years at Oracle — lots and lots of losing.

Pat, what does this mean for the future Raptors and their fans? And is Kawhi going to stick around to be a part of it?

Heery: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this means that about 72 hours after catching flak for cheering the KD injury, Toronto is back! Not sure there are any JR Smith-type parade guys on the Raptors, so get ready for a lot more Drake during the parade.

As for Kawhi, I feel like the postgame celebration revealed a lot about him: There’s actually some personality in there once you peel back the layers, and he clearly has developed a bond with his Raptors teammates, especially Lowry. I now think he stays for at least another year in the Six to defend his crown. If he leaves, which would be unprecedented for a Finals MVP, he might have a built-in excuse if Masai Ujiri takes the money and runs to the Wizards, who are apparently about to back up the Brink’s truck with a $10M/year deal.(He’s worth it too, especially considering Jordan Clarkson makes $12M.)

Speaking of free agency, poor KD and Klay — both free agents this summer and both out for the majority, if not all, of next season with severe injuries. What are some of the ripple effects these injuries have on these two, the Warriors and the rest of free agency?

Keane: It’s likely the Warriors still offer KD and Klay their max deals, but it’s unlikely either plays before the All-Star Game. And if these Finals have proved anything, it’s that rushing back from injuries can have dire consequences, as does not paying the market rate for your training staff. The capped-out Warriors are looking at a season with Draymond Green, Curry and not a lot else. That’s a team that is contending for the six seed, not an NBA title. It could also be a chance for the Warriors to tank load manage their stars, who have played 100-plus-game seasons for five years, get a decent draft pick for the first time since 2012 and reload for a full strength 2020-21 year.

Regardless of what happens, a devastated Warriors team and an uncertain Raptors future means the road to the NBA championship is wide open, and the pool of available free agents is down two Hall of Famers. Milwaukee went all in last year and figures to be 110 percent all in this year. (That math works, right?) Philly is likely to pay all their free agents, after being one crazy Kawhi shot and one Joel Embiid hand wash away from knocking off Toronto. Even though he insists he won’t re-sign there, Boston might be tempted to trade for Anthony Davis anyway — a one-year rental of a guy who wants to play in Los Angeles just worked out great for Toronto!

Davis may be a Laker by the time you read this, and LeBron-plus-The Brow alone may be a legitimate contender in the Warriors-free West next year, provided the team signs better players than Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson this time. To me it also says that Bradley Beal is extremely available now, particularly if Ujiri accepts the Wizards’ giant offer of $10M and his choice of national monuments. It also says that Chris Paul should be unavailable. Two weeks ago, Daryl Morey threatened to trade anyone on his roster. Now the team that beat him four of the last five years has crumbled, and his team is poised to flop its way into the Finals.

What should the Warriors do in this impossible situation? And are there other teams that should be pushing their chips in this summer?

Full Article

By: Pat Heery and Sean Keane


NBA Power Rankings: Week 6

The Clippers climb into the top-10, and the Bucks bounce all the way up to the top spot in this week’s updated NBA Power Rankings.

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 11-4
The Bucks are balling. They boast the league’s most effective and efficient offense. Milwaukee leads the NBA in Offensive Rating, averaging 115.3 points per 100 possessions. They also are near the top in Defensive Rating, allowing 104.4 points per 100 possessions. The Bucks are the only team in the league to rank in the top-five in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. Unsurprisingly, Milwaukee leads the NBA in Net Rating by a wide margin, outscoring their opponents by 10.7 points per contest.

2. Toronto Raptors
Record: 13-4
Despite losing three of their four games last week, the Raptors have already notched 13 wins this season. No other team in the Eastern Conference has more than 11. Kyle Lowry exited Saturday’s blowout victory over the Bulls in the third quarter and did not return to the contest. However, coach Nick Nurse downplayed the severity of the injury when speaking with reporters after the game.

3. Golden State Warriors
Record: 12-6
The Warriors have lost five of their last seven games, which is the team’s worst seven-game stretch under Steve Kerr, and are now 12-6 on the season. In 2016-17, Golden State didn’t lose their sixth game until January 6th. In 2015-16, the year before Kevin Durant arrived, when they won an NBA-record 73 games, they didn’t lose their sixth game of the season until March 6th! Nonetheless, Steve Kerr said that the team would be “very cautious” bringing Stephen Curry back from his groin injury. Draymond Green is also ailing. He missed this past weekend’s game due to a nagging toe injury.

4. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 11-5
The Blazers .688 winning percentage is tops in the Western Conference. Portland is the middle of an arduous six-game road trip; after playing the Knicks on Tuesday, the travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks Wednesday night and then face the Warriors in Golden State on Friday.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 10-5
Prior Saturday night, Russell Westbrook had missed each of the Thunder’s previous five games due to an ankle sprain. However, Westbrook was able to take part in practice on Friday, including part of the contact portions, and went through shootaround on Saturday. Then, Westbrook’s wife gave birth to twins over the weekend, and Russ left to be with his family. Coach Billy Donovan said that they didn’t know if Westbrook would’ve been physically able to play on Saturday if he was there and they never got to the point where they tried to test him to find out. Russ is listed as out for Monday’s game vs. Sacramento. Nonetheless, the streaking Thunder has won 10 of their last 11 games. That 10-1 record is the best in the league over that stretch.

6. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 11-7
Jimmy Butler has only been a Sixer for a week, but he’s already made quite an impression. Butler was incredibly clutch late in overtime on Saturday to carry Philly past the Hornets in Charlotte. With less than 15 seconds remaining in the game, Butler blocked Kemba Walker’s final field goal attempt and saved it inbounds to a teammate. Then, Jimmy Buckets came down the other end of the floor and drilled a game-winning dagger 3-pointer with less than a second left on the clock. Welcome to Philadelphia.

7. Los Angeles Clippers
Record: 10-5
The Clippers are rolling right now. They have won six of their last seven, with three of their most recent victories coming against the Bucks, Warriors and Spurs. Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams are all averaging over 19 points per game. The only other teams in the league with a trio over players averaging over 19 ppg are the Warriors and Pelicans.

8. Boston Celtics
Record: 9-7
The Celtics notched an important victory on Friday, when they knocked off the Raptors in overtime, behind 43 points courtesy of Kyrie Irving. However, they scored just 86 points in a home loss to the Jazz on Saturday. Boston’s offensive struggles this season have been puzzling. They are currently averaging fewer than 104 points per 100 possessions and rank 27th in the league in Offensive Efficiency, ahead of only the lowly Suns, Bulls and Hawks.

9. Indiana Pacers
Record: 10-6
Victor Oladipo (right knee) was a game-time decision on Saturday night but did end up starting. However, just four minutes into the game, he tumbled into the front row after a foul and reaggravated his right knee injury. He has been ruled out of Monday’s game vs. the Jazz, but, fortunately, it doesn’t sound like it will be a long term issue. “A little sore, but I’m good,” Oladipo told reporters Monday morning.

10. Houston Rockets
Record: 8-7
The Rockets are back over .500 after stringing together a four-game winning streak, which included victories over the Pacers, Nuggets and the Warriors in Golden State. During this four-game surge, James Harden is averaging 30.8 points, 7.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 triples and 2.3 steals.

Full List

By: Tommy Beer

Lowry Stays In Toronto For 3 Years, $100 Mil

Written by Josh Martin at Bleacher Reports.com

An announcing his return Sunday to the Toronto Raptors on the Players’ Tribune, Kyle Lowry emphasized how Canada’s most populous city had become home for him.

Heck, he even called the piece “Home.”

“I’m coming back to Toronto because my heart is telling me that it’s home—and because staying home, for me and my family, feels like the right thing to do. My heart is telling me that this is the best city in the world, with the best basketball fans in the world. It’s telling me that the Raptors can be a championship-level team, sooner than later. And I’ll be honest (and don’t hate)—it’s telling me that I’ve still never had poutine.

“But most of all: It’s telling me that, if you’re looking for people to believe in—choose the people who believed in you first.”

The deal—worth $100 million over the next three years, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski—makes it clear both Lowry and the Raptors believe in one another. But something else became blatantly obvious Sunday: Neither the Raptors nor Lowry are giving into the one-man firewall known as LeBron James.

With James fresh off seven straight NBA Finals appearances, both parties could have justified a fresh start. For Lowry, free agency was a chance to escape to the Western Conference. For Toronto, it was an opportunity to begin a rebuild with an eye toward a post-James (or declining James) era.

Instead, both Lowry and the Raptors decided to double down on their recent successes, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the family-like relationship the two have established.

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Kyle Lowry Unsatisfied In Toronto

Written by Kyle Boone at CBS Sports.com

After opting out of his contract in May with the Raptors, Kyle Lowry can now hand pick his next destination — which almost assuredly won’t be in Toronto.

According to a report from the Toronto Star, Lowry has been displeased with the Raptors organization for months, and teams in the league have been told he has no interest in re-signing with his current team.

Here’s more details on Lowry’s situation from the Toronto Star:

Even if the organization did manage to make a deal for a big-time player, Kyle Lowry is a free agent, and multiple league sources say the all-star point guard has been grumbling about dissatisfaction with the Raptors for months. As of mid-May other teams were being told Lowry had “zero interest” in returning to Toronto, even if the Raptors offered a maximum five-year deal. Which since the club had no intention of offering a five-year deal probably made Lowry’s declaration easier to make.

The 31-year-old enjoyed one of his more productive professional seasons on the whole with Toronto in 2016-17. Lowry averaged 22.4 points and 7.0 assists in quarterbacking the 51-win Raptors, but the team fell flat in the Eastern Conference semifinals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I just want a ring,” Lowry said after opting out with Toronto.

Wherever he chooses to chase a ring, it seems unlikely he’ll be doing it in Toronto.

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Kyle Lowry Not Opposed To Heading Home To Philly

Written by Jack Maloney at CBSSports.com

Once Kyle Lowry said, following the Raptors’ Game 4 loss at the hands of the Cavaliers, that he intends to opt out of his contract later this summer and become a free agent, everyone knew there would be plenty of suitors for the All-Star guard.

I’m not sure many expected the Philadelphia 76ers to be part of that bunch, but according to a report Wednesday from Keith Pompey, the Sixers do indeed have interest. But that’s not all; apparently, Lowry is also open to coming back home to join Joel Embiid and company. Via Philly.com:

The real question is: Will Lowry, a former Cardinal Dougherty High and Villanova standout, choose to come home?

Sources have said the North Philly native has been interested in playing for the Sixers for some time. The speculation only heightened once Bryan Colangelo became the president of basketball operations in April 2016. As the Raptors general manager, Colangelo acquired Lowry in a trade from the Houston Rockets on July 11, 2012. The two have remained good friends since then.

And sources have always said that the Sixers planned to offer Lowry a lucrative contract this summer.

This is pretty interesting, especially after Lowry said the other day that he “just wants a ring.” While he is from Philly, and has the connection to Colangelo, the Sixers are not the squad you join if your main goal is winning a championship. At least not in the short term.

There’s plenty of talent in Philadelphia, and they may one day join the ranks of contenders if they’re able to stay healthy, but they’ve shown no sign of being able to do that, and Lowry is already 31 years old.

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NBA All Star Game Rosters and Snubs.

Written by Brad Rowland at Uproxx.com

Normally, the conversation surrounding All-Star “snubs” takes place after full rosters are announced in any sport. On Thursday, the NBA announced only the 2017 starting lineups for both the East and West and, in something of a rare twist, the outrage machine got a very early start. This time, those screaming were actually right.

The frontcourt selections on both sides were quite reasonable. The East’s trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler and LeBron James was the consensus choice across the board and each player earned the nod with lights-out play throughout the campaign. In the West, Kevin Durant andKawhi Leonard were virtual locks, with Anthony Davis garnering the nod in a (slightly) controversial pick.

At the time of the selection, the Pelicans sit with a 17-26 record, but Davis sports incredible numbers (28.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game) and the likes of Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gobert should (hopefully) be recognized with deserved reserve nods. Plus the game is in New Orleans, so Davis getting to start in front of his home crowd is cool.

However, the backcourts were not as clean. In fact, they were flatly wrong. Russell Westbrook is the first player in NBA history to enter the All-Star break while averaging a triple-double that includes a 30-point scoring average.

Naturally, he was left off the quintet of players who will represent the Western Conference to start the game in New Orleans, with Stephen Currytaking the reins. In the East, the “snub” was far less noticeable to a casual observer, but it was a case of the wrong member of the Toronto Raptors garnering the honor, with DeMar DeRozan set to start ahead of backcourt mate Kyle Lowry.

Fan voting was partly to blame for both outcomes, but both are amiss with what has taken place. Yes, Curry is the reigning two-time MVP and one of the best players in the NBA. His production, though, has slipped a substantial amount with Durant in the mix, and Curry’s numbers (24.6 points, 6.1 assists per game, 39.7 percent from three) look positively pedestrian when compared to that of Westbrook.

There is always the argument that Curry’s team success (the Warriors are the best team in the NBA) should buoy him to some degree, but in this case, the statistical argument for Curry is virtually non-existent and Westbrook’s singular dominance has been one of the bigger stories of the 2016-2017 season.

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Harden and Beverley to be in All-Star Saturday Night

Written by Tamberlyn Richardson at SpaceCityScoops.com

Event Participants for 2016 NBA All-Star Game

As the calendar turned to February it signaled the closing in of the NBA All-Star Break. Living in Toronto literally minutes from the Air Canada Center I can tell you preparation for the big event in is full effect and people are extremely excited in anticipation of  the festivities to be featured over the Valentines Day weekend.

Tonight on TNT the players who’ll participate in the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in each of individual events were announced:

Beverley will defend his Taco Bell Skills Challenge win

Last season Patrick Beverley shocked many when he won this event beating out a bunch of top ranked point guards known for their speed (Teague) or ball handling (Knight) as he went on to win the event.

This year he’ll defend his title versus guards CJ McCollum, Isaiah Thomas and Jordan Clarkson. But in perhaps the most interesting and exciting change to the Saturday night events the Skills Challenge will also feature big men: DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green.

I’m dying to know how the pairs will line up, that is to say will the guards pair off and big men pair off running 2 sets of the course to get down to a winner on each side advancing? Or will they have one guard face a big in each heat? Kind of hope it’s the latter as that would be fun to see the bigs trying to beat the guards. All 4 big men are highly skilled and in fact trying to handicap the bigs is actually much more difficult than the guards.

Harden featured again in 3-point contest

Many of the contestants this season are repeat performers from last season such as reigning champ Steph Curry and his Golden State Splash Brother Klay Thompson along with Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Clippers guard JJ Redick (leads league in 3 point shooting percentage). New to the comp is the star from the host city Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry along with Bucks Khris Middleton.

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