Kyle Lowry

Poll: Best Unrestricted Free Agent Point Guard

Among unrestricted free agents this offseason, point guard is easily the deepest position. Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, George Hill, Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Rose headline this group. Deron Williams, Darren Collison, and Patty Mills are also unrestricted free agents. In all, there are 28 unrestricted free agent point guards this offseason.

Two-time MVP Curry has scarcely been mentioned as an unrestricted free agent because most take for granted that he will return to the Warriors to dominate the NBA with the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green for years to come.

Probably the second best player in this group, Lowry, will be coming off a breakout season, but he is 31 years old, has a long history of playoff struggles, and the Raptors would need to offer him a 5-year max contract. Still, Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combine for one of the most lethal backcourts in the league, and it is difficult to imagine Toronto not laying out the red carpet for its star point guard’s return.

After seven seasons with the Hawks, Teague played in all 82 games for the Pacers, averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.8 APG, and 1.2 SPG.

Although limited to 49 games due to injury in his first campaign with the Jazz, Hill averaged a career-high 16.9 PPG to go with an impressive slash line of .477/.403/.801.

Holiday shot a career-high 45.4% from the floor for the Pelicans, posting 15.4 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

Rose, a former MVP, averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.4 APG, while shooting a stellar 47.1% in 64 games in his first season with the Knicks.

Without further ado, here’s today’s poll question: Beyond Curry and Lowry, who among this group would be most helpful for a team to sign and suit up as their starting point guard next season? Don’t limit yourself to a click of a button. Do you believe someone in the group is better than each of the available options? Are we underrating someone’s potential? Let us know in the comment section below. We look forward to your insight!


Sixers Notes: Redick, Draft, Colangelo, Okafor

Clippers free agent J.J. Redick will get a lot of interest from the Eastern Conference, and the Sixers may be the leading contender, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. In a video posted on the Vertical website, several analysts offer their visions of the future for Philadelphia after winding up with the third pick in next month’s draft. Wojnarowski believes the Sixers will make a strong play for Redick, an 11-year veteran who would fill a position of need at shooting guard while bringing leadership to the locker room. Redick will probably receive offers starting at $16MM to $17MM annually, Wojnarowski predicts, and Philly’s strongest competition for him will come from the Nets, as well as the Knicks if they can clear enough cap room.

There’s more tonight out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers may try to trade down in the draft, suggests The Vertical’s Bobby Marks in the same video, because there isn’t a perfect fit for them at No. 3. They are believed to have interest in Kentucky guard Malik Monk, who could be available a few picks later. Marks says the Kings, who own picks No. 5 and No. 10, might emerge as a trading partner. He adds that Philadelphia also owns an unprotected Lakers pick next season, an unprotected Kings pick in 2019 and a pick from the Thunder in 2020 that is top-20 protected, all of which could be used as trade assets.
  • President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was planning a “measured, organic growth path” if the Sixers came away from Tuesday’s lottery with two picks, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Instead, the Lakers landed in the top three and got to keep their selection for another year, which leads Colangelo to a more aggressive approach that will involve seeking veteran help through trades and free agency. “We are going to have both opportunities available to us now,” he said. “We are going to look at all those alternatives, all those options.” Pompey lists Redick, Kyle Lowry, Otto Porter, Danilo Gallinari and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as free agents the team might target.
  • Jahlil Okafor is an obvious candidate to be used as a trade chip, writes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. The second-year center has been a poor fit in Philadelphia since being drafted in 2015. Many observers expected him to be dealt at the February deadline, but Nerlens Noel was shipped to Dallas instead. “I want to find a situation that’s great for us and great for Jahlil, and if that means him staying here then that’s great,” Colangelo said. “He’s a great kid and a great player and we’re going to see how he fits with this group.”

Kyle Lowry Opts Out Of Contract

MAY 12: Lowry has officially opted out of his contract, according to his agency, ASM Sports (Twitter link).

MAY 8: As expected, Kyle Lowry will opt out of his contract with the Raptors and become a free agent this summer. Lowry confirmed the decision today to reporters in his exit interview following the Raptors’ elimination from the playoffs, though he’s not sure what his next move after that will be, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050 tweets.Kyle Lowry vertical

“Honestly I haven’t thought too far ahead of any of that,” Lowry said of his looming free agency. “I will be opting out, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

Lowry, who called the prospect of entering free agency “fun, but stressful” (Twitter link via Sportsnet’s Michael Grange) had indicated way back in October that he’d likely opt out at season’s end. The decision is an easy one, as Lowry’s player option for 2017/18 is worth just $12MM. The 31-year-old will be able to easily exceed that on the open market.

Just because Lowry will opt out of his Raptors contract though, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave Toronto. The Raps will still have a leg up in contract negotiations, since they can offer him more years (five) and higher raises (8%) than any other team can (four years and 5% raises).

Still, Masai Ujiri and company will face some tough decisions this summer, with Serge Ibaka, Patrick Patterson, and P.J. Tucker also facing free agency. The Raptors front office will have to determine whether it’s worth potentially going into tax territory to keep the club’s current core together after a demoralizing second round sweep at the hands of the defending champion Cavaliers.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Raptors’ Free Agents]

For the 2016/17 season, Lowry averaged a career-high 22.4 PPG to go along with 7.0 APG, 4.8 RPG, and a .464/.412/.819 shooting line in 60 games. He was named an All-Star for the third consecutive year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Kyle Lowry And The Sixers

Kyle Lowry didn’t officially announce until this week that he would be turning down his 2017/18 player option in order to sign a new, longer-term – and more lucrative – contract. However, the decision had long been expected, and much of the speculation on Lowry’s potential destination in recent months has centered on the idea of a homecoming.

While the Raptors, who can offer more years and more dollars than any other suitor, are still considered the favorites to sign Lowry this summer, the Sixers will have plenty of cap room at their disposal and don’t necessarily have a long-term solution at point guard. Throw in the fact that Lowry is a Philadelphia native, and that the Sixers are being run by former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, and it’s easy to connect the dots.

Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer made the case today for a union between the Sixers and Lowry, and Pompey’s report isn’t based entirely on speculation. The Inquirer reporter cited sources who have suggested that Lowry has been interested in playing for his hometown team “for some time.” Similarly, sources “have always said” that the Sixers intend to make Lowry a competitive contract offer this summer, according to Pompey.

While there’s a compelling case in favor of the Sixers seriously pursuing Lowry, there’s also plenty of reason to believe it won’t happen. Besides the fact that the Raptors head into free agency with the upper hand in negotiations, the Sixers and Lowry may not be looking for the same things this offseason, as Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Daily News argued this week.

While the Sixers haven’t found a long-term solution at point guard, they may have one on the roster already, as the team has announced its intentions to try No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons at that position this summer and fall. If Simmons can handle running the point and is better suited to that spot than a forward role, it may not make sense to bring in Lowry on a long-term deal.

Meanwhile, from Lowry’s perspective, the Sixers may be a little further from contention than he’d like. The All-Star point guard would certainly help Philadelphia become a legit playoff contender, particularly if Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric are all healthy next season. But Lowry said in his exit interview this week that getting a championship ring is his top priority — Philadelphia still looks multiple years away from developing into a team of that caliber.

What do you think? If the Raptors and Lowry can’t work something out, would Philadelphia make sense as a landing spot, or is the fit not quite right? If not the Raptors or the Sixers, which team do you think signs Lowry this summer?

Jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts!

Ujiri: Not Realistic For Raptors To Re-Sign All FAs

Speaking to local reporters today at his end-of-season press conference, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri admitted that it’s not “realistic” for the team to retain all four of its key free agents this offseason (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050). In addition to Kyle Lowry, who confirmed on Monday that he’ll opt out of his contract, veteran Raptors forwards Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all eligible for free agency this offseason.

That admission from Ujiri isn’t surprising. Lowry appears to be in line for a max deal or something close to it, and Ibaka will get a big payday as well. Tucker and Patterson figure to land more reasonable deals, but they’ve positioned themselves for raises of their own. Add it all together, and the Raptors would be going way into tax territory to retain a roster of players who were bounced in the second round of this year’s playoffs.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders examined the Raptors’ free agency situation earlier today, suggesting that Tucker and Patterson may be the odd men out, despite the fact that Toronto would – in theory – like to re-sign them both. According to Kyler, the framework for a multiyear deal for Ibaka that starts around $20MM is “basically done,” though nothing is finalized yet and rival suitors could still attempt to pry away the big man.

Meanwhile, even though Ujiri didn’t sound optimistic about bringing back all the Raptors’ free agents, he had plenty of praise for Lowry, calling the veteran point guard “a huge part of our success here” and asserting that “we want him back” (Twitter link via Eric Koreen of The Athletic).

Ujiri also weighed in on several other subjects during his presser, so let’s dive in and round up some highlights…

  • The Raptors’ performance against the Cavaliers was eye-opening, according to Ujiri, who suggested that the franchise may need a bit of a “culture reset” (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic). Ujiri also acknowledged that the question of how to evolve from a “good” team to an “elite” team will be at the forefront for him this summer (Twitter link via Koreen).
  • One of Ujiri’s primary talking points today revolved around his desire to evaluate and re-think the Raptors’ style of play. The Raps president said he has told head coach Dwane Casey the team may need to change its approach on the court, rather than continuing to change its players (Twitter links via Lewenberg). Ujiri also hammered home the need to keep thinking progressively rather than getting stagnant. “We’ve tried what we’ve done so many times and it hasn’t worked. That’s the simple answer.” Ujiri said. “It’s easy to defend one-on-one” (Twitter links via Murphy).
  • While Ujiri’s comments on the Raptors’ style of play weren’t necessarily a direct indictment of the club’s head coach, Lewenberg left the presser feeling that Casey’s job may be in jeopardy (Twitter link).
  • Ujiri said today that team ownership is fully on board with whatever direction he and the front office choose to go, whether that means going into the tax, rebuilding, or something in between (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • Although he didn’t want to use it as an excuse, Ujiri acknowledged that the Raptors – having acquired Ibaka and Tucker at the deadline – didn’t spend a lot of time together in their current form, which makes it tricky to evaluate how all the players fit together (Twitter link via Murphy).
  • Asked whether the Raptors need more from their small forward spot, Ujiri said they do, but expressed optimism that DeMarre Carroll, who has never really been fully healthy since arriving in Toronto, will have a big summer (Twitter link via Murphy).

Southwest Notes: Lowry, Ferrell, Rockets, Mills

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry likely tops the Mavs’ list of point guards on the free agent market, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Lowry confirmed after the Raptors were eliminated by the Cavaliers in the playoffs that he would opt of his contract. A solid, experienced point guard would be preferable to drafting one next month, Sefko continues, even though the team is undergoing a youth movement. Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday are also potential targets during the offseason, Sefko adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Yogi Ferrell will remain on the roster unless the Mavs get lucky in free agency and have a shot at either Stephen Curry or Chris Paul, Sefko writes in a separate mailbag. In that scenario, Dallas would have to clear as much cap space as possible. Otherwise, the coaching staff believes that Ferrell can turn into a sparkplug in the mold of J.J. Barea, Sefko continues. Veteran guard Devin Harris would be the first player let go if the Mavericks need to clear cap space, Sefko adds. Harris’ $4.4MM contract for next season is not guaranteed.
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni will likely stick with smaller lineups and force the Spurs to adjust in the wake of Nene Hilario‘s season-ending injury, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. With Nene suffering a groin tear in Game 4, the Rockets downsized and buried the Spurs with a flurry of 3-pointers. It’s a good bet that forward Ryan Anderson will be replaced in the starting lineup by guard Eric Gordon, a strategy D’Antoni employed in the second half on Sunday.
  • Unrestricted free agent point guard Patty Mills could enjoy a big payday this summer, according to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. Tony Parker‘s serious quad injury could make Mills the Spurs’ top priority this offseason. They own his Bird rights and can thus offer Mills more than any other team, Finger points out. Mills provides scoring and energy off the bench, as Manu Ginobili has delivered for so many years, Finger adds.

Raptors Rumors: Ujiri, DeRozan, Tucker, Ibaka

The easiest way for Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to make a significant change is to fire coach Dwane Casey, Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated opines. Ujiri is in a position to rebuild the roster in the wake of the Cavaliers’ playoff sweep but his track record suggests he won’t take that approach, Golliver continues. In a best-case scenario, Ujiri will trade underperforming forward DeMarre Carroll and guard Cory Joseph while retaining his best perimeter defender, unrestricted free agent P.J. Tucker, Golliver adds.

In other developments regarding the Raptors:

  • With point guard Kyle Lowry and forwards Serge Ibaka and Patrick Patterson also heading into unrestricted free agency this summer, the club faces an uncertain future, as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun details.
  • Backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan throws his full support behind Lowry and his decision to opt out, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet tweets. “I don’t want to hinder him or make anything more hectic than it’s going to be,” DeRozan told Grange.
  • DeRozan wants the team to acquire more shooters to complement his talents, Wolstat tweets.
  • Tucker will wait to see if Lowry remains with the club before he decides whether to return, Wolstat reports in another tweet. Tucker wants to play for a contender, Wolstat adds. Ibaka’s decision will be influenced by his daughter, he told Wolstat (Twitter link).
  • Casey says it “would be difficult” for the team to advance deeper in future playoffs without re-signing Lowry, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets.

Raptors Notes: Offseason Options, Rebuild

After suffering a humbling sweep at the hands of the reigning champion Cavaliers, the Raptors are in limbo heading into the offseason, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes. In front of them are several options ranging from full on teardown to attempted recovery.

One of the options Lowe lays out is letting Kyle Lowry sign elsewhere lest the Raptors get bogged down in a five-year, $200MM contract. If that happens, Lowe posits that there isn’t much point bringing Serge Ibaka back either.

Ultimately, he continues, it would only make sense to trade DeMar DeRozan as well and fully embrace a tank.

That said, the scribe notes that the franchise could choose to bite the bullet and sign Lowry to a lofty five-year deal and then let Ibaka walk with the intention of replacing him with cheaper, shorter term players.

At the end of the day, Lowe argues that retaining the current core in its entirety would put the club well over the luxury tax threshold, the only problem being that their on-court performance doesn’t necessarily warrant it.

Regardless of the path team president Masai Ujiri chooses to pursue, he’s built up enough goodwill and ownership trust to see it through.

There’s more from the Raptors:

  • In the same piece, Lowe wonders if making a coaching change and letting Dwane Casey go could help “unstick” Toronto’s notoriously disappointing postseason offense.
  • Amid talk of an uncertain summer, DeRozan said that tearing everything down would be difficult. “It’s hard to break down a team that won 50-plus games two years in a row,” he told the media, including Josh Lewenberg of TSN.
  • The Raptors were headed toward a full on rebuild before a late-season surge following the trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Kings in 2014 boosted them into Eastern Conference contention, Scott Stinson writes for the National Post.

Kyle Lowry Will Miss Game 4 Due To Ankle Sprain

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will miss Sunday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cavaliers due to a left ankle sprain, according to the team’s official Twitter account.

Lowry missed Game 3 of the series due to the troublesome ankle and admitted to that trying to play through the injury may have made it worse. The 31-year-old received treatment on the ankle yesterday and today but it did not improve enough to play in today’s potentially series-ending game.

The Cavaliers have dominated the Raptors in the postseason, winning by double-digits in each of the semifinals’ first three contests. Lowry contributed a double-double (20 points, 11 assists) in Game 1 and another productive outing (20 points, five assists) in Game 2 before going down with the injury.

Injuries have been an issue for Lowry this season as he missed 18 games late in the year due to surgery on an ailing right wrist. All told, the Villanova University product set career-highs in PPG (22.4) and RPG (4.8) while adding solid totals in APG (7.0) through 60 games.

Lowry is set to hit free agency after the season and if the Cavaliers sweep the series — or the ankle injury prevents him from playing if the series continues — the longtime Raptors point guard may have played his last game with Toronto.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Lowry, Saric, Sixers

A spokesman for Kristaps Porzingis is blaming hackers for the mysterious tweet that appeared Saturday on his account, according to Ian Begley of (Twitter link). The message read “LA Clippers” with three smiley faces, prompting speculation that Porzingis has a desire to be traded to Los Angeles. It was deleted a few seconds later. His representative says Porzingis was asleep when the tweet was posted and he believes the account was hacked.

There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:

  • This summer could bring major changes to the Raptors, including the departure of Kyle Lowry and coach Dwane Casey, writes Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun. The Raptors trail the Cavaliers 3-0 heading into today’s Game 4, and there is speculation that a second-round exit won’t be enough to keep the team together. Lowry is expected to opt out of his $12MM deal and become a free agent after an injury-filled season. He described himself as “probably doubtful” for today’s game with a sprained left ankle, the latest in a list of ailments that also included back problems and wrist surgery. Lowry has three straight All-Star appearances, but he turned 31 in March and the Raptors will have to decide if he’s worth a long-term investment. Casey has a .548 winning percentage in his six years in Toronto, but team president Masai Ujiri may decide the team needs a different presence on its bench.
  • Rookie of the Year candidate Dario Saric remembers the anxiety he felt on the plane trip from Croatia to Philadelphia, relays Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. “I was nervous,” he said. “I feel like I am coming in NBA, this is it now. I cannot go back anymore.” The Sixers waited two years for Saric to join the team after acquiring his rights in a 2014 trade with Orlando. He didn’t disappoint, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 81 games.
  • The Sixers need more than just another successful draft to become contenders, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey examines the way other teams have been constructed and notes that there is usually a mixture of draft picks, trades and free agency signings. Philadelphia enters the May 16th lottery with the fourth-worst record and about a one in three chance of landing a top three pick. The Sixers will also receive the Lakers’ selection if it falls out of the top three.
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