Kyle Lowry

Jimmy Butler Warned Not To Come To Cleveland?

2:38pm: A team source tells Amico Hoops that there’s no truth to the idea that members of the Cavs are telling Butler it’s in his best interest not to come to Cleveland.

11:28am: Several Cavaliers players have advised Bulls star Jimmy Butler to resist any trade to Cleveland, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Unidentified players, who had been encouraging Butler to seek a deal to the Cavs, are now telling him to stay away from the sudden chaos in the organization after the decision not to re-sign GM David Griffin.

Butler had planned to ask Bulls GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson to find a way to get him to Cleveland, Cowley reports. However, he apparently changed his mind Tuesday afternoon after being contacted by a few Cavaliers.

There are no other teams that Butler wants to join, including the Celtics, according to Cowley, and Chicago’s front office has set an asking price so high that it makes a deal virtually impossible.

Dwyane Wade‘s decision on Tuesday to opt in next season for $23.8MM is also related to the situation in Cleveland, Cowley states. Because Wade is a close friend of LeBron James, he understands how angry James is about Griffin’s departure and knew that Butler is likely to remain a Bull.

Cowley also reports a likely breakup of “The Three Alphas” in Chicago, with Butler and Wade pushing for an alternative to Rajon Rondo. While they like Rondo personally, both stars would prefer a point guard who can shoot from the outside to help space the court.

Butler, who played with Kyle Lowry at the Olympics last year, has been talking to the Raptors free agent about coming to Chicago, and Kyrie Irving has indicated that he might seek a trade to escape a possible shakeup in Cleveland.
Irving’s asking price would be too steep for the Bulls, Cowley speculates, so a third team would have to be involved.

Rockets Target Paul, Griffin, Millsap, Lowry

1:41pm: In an effort to create cap space, the Rockets are making Beverley, Anderson and Lou Williams all available in trades, Stein writes in a full story. Williams will make $7MM next season in the final year of his contract.

12:33pm: The Rockets will chase several of the top free agents on the market this summer, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources tell Stein that Houston plans to pursue Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and Kyle Lowry.

Paul, who is expected to opt out of a nearly $24.3MM salary, will be the top point guard on the market and is rumored to have strong interest from the Spurs, among others. Griffin is expected to use an early termination option and give up a salary of nearly $21.4MM. The Hawks are reluctant to offer Millsap a maximum deal and have reportedly talked to other teams about a sign-and-trade. Lowry is a former Rocket who was traded to Toronto in 2012.

All four players will be seeking max offers, which mean the Rockets, who currently have a maximum of $11.7MM to operate with, will have to clear significant cap room. Houston reportedly is seeking to trade starting guard Patrick Beverley, which would save about $5.5MM and create a backcourt opening for Paul or Lowry. Finding a taker for Ryan Anderson (nearly $19.6MM next season) or Eric Gordon (more than $12.9MM) would open a lot more.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Ginobili, Teague, Sixers

In the wake of a report that cast some doubts on whether Kyle Lowry intends to re-sign with the Raptors, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News examines the point guard’s situation, suggesting that Lowry returning to Toronto is still the most likely outcome. However, Deveney pointed to a couple other teams as potential Lowry suitors.

Sources have indicated to Deveney that there’s a chance the Knicks will pursue Lowry, though if the 31-year-old wants to join a contending team, that may take New York out of the equation. According to Deveney, the Nuggets may be another team to watch, since they have cap room necessary to make a splash and could use a long-term solution at the point. They’ve also shown a willingness to go after impact players — I suggested last week that the Nuggets may be a good bet to pursue a free agent point guard.

Meanwhile, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Jimmy Butler “has been in [Lowry’s] ear” about joining the Bulls since the two played together for Team USA. A Bulls source tells Cowley that Butler and Dwyane Wade would prefer to play with a point guard who can space the floor better than Rajon Rondo, and Lowry would certainly fit that bill. I don’t think the Bulls signing Lowry is a very realistic scenario, but I also didn’t expect the club to add Wade and Rondo a year ago, so we’ll see how the offseason plays out.

Here are a few other free agent notes from around the NBA:

  • Manu Ginobili, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, has yet to make a final decision on his future. However, there have been positive indications that he’s leaning toward returning to the Spurs for another year, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
  • Pacers president Kevin Pritchard is mulling the possibility of having Lance Stephenson run the point in Indiana if the team embarks on a rebuild, tweets Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. While Doyel doesn’t come out and say it, that wouldn’t be a good sign for Jeff Teague‘s odds of re-signing with the Pacers this offseason.
  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sixers president Bryan Colangelo downplayed the idea of the Sixers foraying into free agency much this summer, suggesting the club wants to maintain maximum flexibility for 2018, when its core is “more ready” (Twitter link via Derek Bodner).
  • Kincade Upstill of The Deseret News explores possible next steps for the Jazz if Gordon Hayward departs in free agency next month.

Latest On Kyle Lowry, Raptors

10:33am: Speaking today to reporters, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said Lowry has told him he wants to stay in Toronto and “I can only believe what he tells me” (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050). Sportsnet’s Michael Grange adds (via Twitter) that Ujiri appears confident Lowry has “bought in,” but the dollars and years will need to be right for the relationship between the two sides to continue.

8:12am: Kyle Lowry quickly responded on Monday night to a report suggesting that other teams were being informed in mid-May that the veteran point guard had “zero interest” in re-signing with the Raptors. In a tweet, Lowry referred to the column from Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star as “B.S.”

“I don’t do this ever but: Don’t believe what you hear!!” Lowry wrote. “Especially if it didn’t come from me, and that B.S. FOR SURE didn’t come from me.”

According to Arthur, multiple league sources say that Lowry “has been grumbling about dissatisfaction with the Raptors for months.” Arthur suggests that the Raptors don’t intend to offer Lowry a five-year deal, but adds that even if the team were willing to put a five-year, maximum salary offer on the table, the point guard’s stance in mid-May was that it wouldn’t keep him in Toronto.

Despite these seemingly explosive allegations, Arthur’s column ends by hinting that the Raptors and Lowry may yet work something out. The All-Star point guard is somewhat emotional, and has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with some coaching decisions in the past, even as he talks about how much he enjoys the city and the team. So the claim that he has been “grumbling” for months isn’t necessarily a bombshell.

Additionally, mid-May was right after the Raptors were unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs by Cleveland, with Lowry missing the series’ last two games, so it makes sense that he would be most frustrated with his situation at that point. Talk of blowing up the Raptors’ roster was impossible to avoid in the wake of the team’s playoff exit, but has quieted down somewhat in recent weeks.

With the Sixers having moved up in this year’s draft to nab Markelle Fultz, a potentially serious suitor for Lowry appears to be out of the mix, and there simply aren’t that many great fits for the veteran Raptor around the NBA. Most teams with cap room and a need at point guard are lottery clubs, and Lowry prefers to join a contender. But playoff clubs with a hole at the position would need to move things around to fit in Lowry, and there’s no guarantee they could make him a better pitch than the Raptors could — even if Toronto isn’t willing to go up to five years.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Lowry, Pasecniks, Goodwin

Clarence Gaines Jr., the closest advisor to Knicks president Phil Jackson, is the latest team official to get a first-hand look at Frank Ntilikina, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Jackson’s preference for big guards may be enough for New York to draft Ntilikina at No. 8, although Berman notes that North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr.  and Kentucky’s Malik Monk both have supporters in the front office. Ntilikina is 6’5″ with a 7-foot wingspan, a reputation for defensive intensity and a high basketball IQ. Jackson has developed a liking for European prospects after his success with Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez. Ntilikina’s case isn’t helped by his modest numbers — 5.2 points and 1.2 assists in about 18 minutes per game in the French League — but he says he is becoming a more aggressive player.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Saturday’s trade between the Sixers and Celtics removes a potential destination for Raptors free agent Kyle Lowry, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Philadelphia had been considered a threat to sign Lowry because it’s his hometown and the Sixers have considerable cap space. But with point guard Markelle Fultz headed to Philadelphia, there’s no need to spend money on Lowry.
  • The Nets may gamble on Latvian star Anzejs Pasecniks with one of their two picks late in the first round, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. A former teammate of Porzingis, the 7-foot-2, 226-pound center will have to develop his body to handle the NBA game. “Pasecniks is one of those guys that’d be perfect for a team with multiple [first-round] picks. Brooklyn’s got multiple picks,” said ESPN international analyst Fran Fraschilla. “Portland, and maybe even Utah may have multiple picks. He’s one of those guys that you could draft [and stash] him. Although he’s 21 and he’s anxious to get over here and start his NBA career.”
  • Brooklyn guard Archie Goodwin is a rare player with four years of experience who is volunteering for Summer League, tweets NetsDaily. Goodwin played briefly for the Pelicans and Nets this season, but spent most of the year in the D-League. He is hoping to secure a spot on the team after signing a two-year deal in April that contains several guarantee dates.

Lowry Meets With Casey, DeRozan

Three weeks after officially opting out of the last year of his contract with the Raptors, Kyle Lowry met up with head coach Dwane Casey and two teammates in the Bay Area, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports.

DeMar DeRozan and Norman Powell are said to have joined the coach and point guard, the former even flying in from Los Angeles specifically for the event.

Per a Haynes source, one of Casey’s objectives during the meeting was to expose his players to the culture of the NBA Finals.

At this point, whatever else the group may have discussed is merely speculation but Lowry is expected to attract considerable interest on the market when he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1.

In his season-ending press conference last month, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke about changing the culture in the organization. Some initially interpreted that to mean that a coaching switch could be forthcoming.

Not long after, however – as we outlined on May 11 – Ujiri suggested that he still has faith in the coach and appears willing to give him the opportunity to change the team’s playing style himself.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Ilyasova, Lowry, Sixers

Gordon Hayward‘s outside shooting and overall offensive skills would blend well with Isaiah Thomas game if the Jazz forward chooses the Celtics in free agency, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald opines. The fact that the Celtics protected their salary-cap space in order to make a run at a top free agent indicates that Hayward would at least take a close look at Boston and a potential reunion with his college coach Brad Stevens, Bulpett continues. If Hayward signs a three-year deal with the Celtics that includes an opt-out clause, he could sign for the 10-year veteran’s maximum in 2020, Bulpett notes. The Celtics could alternatively put together a big package to trade with the Pacers for Paul George if George is willing to stay in Boston after he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, Bulpett adds.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s unlikely that the Sixers will make a run at veteran power forward Ersan Ilyasova in free agency, according to Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com. While Ilyasova lifted their offense and aided in Dario Saric‘s development before he was traded to the Hawks this season, the Sixers want to maintain flexibility with their frontcourt group. Ilyasova will be seeking a multi-year commitment and security after being traded around the league in recent years, Camerato adds.
  • Free agent point guard Kyle Lowry could wind up with the Clippers if the Raptors don’t re-sign him and Chris Paul heads elsewhere in free agency, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun opines. Lowry could also be a fit with the Spurs if Paul declines to play there, Simmons continues. On a separate note, Toronto could wind up signing a veteran shooting guard such as Kyle Korver or Vince Carter because of their ability to make 3-pointers, Simmons adds.
  • Forbes magazine estimates the value of the Sixers’ franchise has jumped to $800MM, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays. That’s an increase of over $500MM than the purchase price for the franchise in 2011, Pompey notes. The team’s value could continue to rise if Ben Simmons becomes a star player, according to the magazine.

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.

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