Kyle Lowry

Lowry ‘Doubtful’; Raptors Breakup Coming?

Still hobbled by a sprained left ankle, Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry describes himself as “probably doubtful” for Game 4 against the Cavaliers, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.

Lowry made the assessment today as the team enjoyed a day off before Sunday’s contest. He suffered the ankle injury in Game 2 of the series and was forced to sit out Game 3.

“Hopefully some things change,” Lowry added, “but right now, I don’t think I’ll be able to play.”

Trailing 3-0, the Raptors could be just a few hours away from the end of their season and a significant summer shakeup. Lowry, who has spent the past five seasons in Toronto, is headed toward free agency. So is Patrick Patterson, who has been with the team since 2013, along with Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, who were both acquired at this year’s trade deadline.

Smith states that there’s “no way” all four will be re-signed, and cites a feeling of “change in the air” at team headquarters. Cap considerations will probably prove him correct, as the franchise has about $58MM tied up for next season among DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll. The Raptors will have about $21MM to spend, and all four free agents will be seeking hefty raises. Toronto management will have to decide how far over the cap it wants to go to keep the current team together when it can’t get past the Cavaliers.

Lowry, an All-Star the past three seasons, is all but certain to opt out of his $12MM salary for next year and seek a max deal. He averaged a career-best 22.4 points per game this season to go with 7.0 assists. Significant increases are probably also looming for Ibaka (who made $12.25MM this year), Patterson ($6.05MM) and Tucker ($5.3MM).

DeRozan said the team is doing its best to focus on the current series, rather than whatever changes may lie ahead.
“As long as you understand that you have an opportunity, you can focus in on that,” he said. “Whatever comes after that, then you dwell on whatever comes after that.”

Eastern Notes: Lowry, Rose, Magic

Kyle Lowry has seven days from the date of the Raptors’  final playoff game to make a decision on his player option for next season, Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes. Lowry is expected to test the free agent market and Toronto must figure out what kind of offer would make sense. In addition to Lowry, the team will also have to worry about retaining Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson.

The team has roughly $76MM in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season. Re-signing all their players may be difficult, but finding replacements on the market with only $25MM of cap space will be an even harder feat.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Derrick Rose, who will be a free agent this summer, will likely need to take a short-term deal and prove he’s healthy, Marks adds in the same piece. The scribe adds that Rose may be best suited to play off the ball at this point in his career.
  • The Magic are looking for a strong presence to lead the basketball operations side of the front office while CEO Alex Martins runs the business side, sources tell Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. It was previously reported that Orlando may try to poach Larry Bird for that role, however, Bontemps believes that kind of move is unlikely for the former Celtics great.
  • Terrence Ross, who was sent to the Magic mid-season, is embracing the challenge of helping Orlando get back to the NBA’s second season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. “Everything counts when you’re trying to make it to the playoffs or chase the trophy,” Ross said. “It’s a whole bunch of things that goes into it. You’ve got to make sure you’re playing the game right with pure heart, understand what it takes to win. I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out here.”

Eastern Notes: George, Williams, Lowry

It’s time for the Pacers to deal Paul George since he can become a free agent next summer, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders contends. Hamilton compares the Pacers’ situation to the Jazz’s back in 2011. Utah sent Deron Williams to the Nets when the point guard still had over a year left on his contract. Brooklyn gave up quite a haul for Williams and the Jazz were able to easily rebuild. Hamilton names the Lakers as a potential trade partner.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers won Game 4 against the Pacers today and Williams played a key role in the win, as Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media group details. Williams can to Cleveland via the buyout market this season. It was previously reported that the waiver and buyout process could be altered this offseason.
  • Coach Brad Stevens surprisingly started Gerald Green in Game 3 of the Celtics’ series against the Bulls and Green will get the nod again in Game 4, Jared Weiss of SB Nation relays. Green is on a one-year, minimum salary deal and he’ll be a free agent this offseason.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post wonders if the Raptors are going to pay Kyle Lowry a max contract if they lose in the first round. Bontemps believes rival teams, like the Sixers, will be willing to pay him the max for his services regardless of Toronto’s playoff success. Lowry can become a free agent this summer.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Lowry, Hornacek

The Sixers are near the top of our Reverse Standings, owning a record of 28-52. The team is optimistic that it can climb the real NBA standings next season and Joel Embiid is a major reason why there’s hope, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“The thing I get most excited about with Joel is he has such a long ways to go,” coach Brett Brown said. “He is just scratching the surface of what ultimately he’s going to be.”

Embiid remains out as he recovers from knee surgery, but the organization expects him to resume basketball activities this summer.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors are still working to incorporate all their new players, Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun details. The scribe notes that Kyle Lowry, who recently returned to the lineup following a wrist injury, hasn’t yet found a comfort level with new addition Serge Ibaka.
  • Coach Jeff Hornacek admits that the all-in switch to the triangle mid-season may not have been the best move for the Knicks, Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. “It shouldn’t have been that big of a deal,” Hornacek said. “But from the players’ side they probably thought it was too big a change. We’ll figure what’s best for us, what everybody wants to do and try to go from day one and leave it like that.”
  • If the Celtics are going to make a deep postseason run, they must rediscover their 3-point shot, A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet argues. Marcus Smart, who will be eligible for a rookie extension this offseason, is among the team’s bench players who have struggled from behind the arc since the All-Star break.

Atlantic Notes: Lopez, Rodriguez, Saric

Make no mistake, Brook Lopez has carved out a legacy with Nets, that’s the result of nine years of consistent production Filip Bondy of the New York Times writes. In nearly a decade with the franchise, Lopez has played in two states with 109 different teammates and is now closing in on the franchise scoring record.

In 560 career games with the Nets, Lopez has averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The 29-year-old veteran has endured countless trade rumors and come out as content as anybody could expect.

I definitely think I’m lucky,” he told Bondy of his time with the Nets, the only team he’s ever known. “When people look back on me and my career, I’d like them to say I was one of the people who helped start something big in Brooklyn. Started a legacy where players want to come and play.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers have formally ruled point guard Sergio Rodriguez out for the remainder of the season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Pompey also notes that he’s the sixth member of the team to be ruled out for the season.
  • The Raptors have no intention of resting their players in the final week of the regular season, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star says. Point guard Kyle Lowry says that the team can’t relax prior to the postseason.
  • First-year forward Dario Saric is battling plantar fasciitis and is on a minutes restriction but that hasn’t prevented him from playing as hard as possible for the Sixers, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The result is a palpable sense of urgency. “It’s like somebody just gorging at a buffet,” head coach Brett Brown said of his rookie’s appetite for scoring the ball.
  • Expect the return of Kyle Lowry to guide the Raptors to more three-point attempts, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. At least that’s what head coach Dwane Casey foresees. “We were great for a while, and then for a long period of time we were turning down three-point shots,” he said. “For the rhythm of the offence, for their confidence, for their ability to make those shots, you’ve got to take them.

Atlantic Notes: Rodriguez, Lowry, McConnell

Sergio Rodriguez, who has been a rotation mainstay in his first NBA season since 2009/10, stated his desire to remain with the Sixers beyond this season.

“It’s going to be a special thing in the coming years in Philadelphia,” Rodriguez told Keith Pompey of Philly.com. “You always want to be a part of that. It’s been a good season for me, a great season for the team.”

With only three games remaining this season, Rodriguez was uncertain whether he would play again in 2016/17.

“It’s feeling better. But the injury is kind of tricky because you never know when you are 100 percent,” Rodriguez said of his hamstring injury. “The way that we are not practicing, it makes it hard to recover well.”

More from around the Atlantic…

  • Kyle Lowry is in postseason form, logging 42 minutes in the Raptors’ 105-102 win over the Pistons on Wednesday. In a post-game interview, Lowry told Doug Smith of The Toronto Star he has no fear of wearing himself out before the playoffs. “That’s one thing about me . . . if I’m going to come back, I’m going to come back and play basketball. No limitations, no restrictions, I’m going to go hoop,” said Lowry, who had missed a 21-game stretch with a wrist injury. “The game of basketball is fun for me. It’s what I love to do and I just wanted to go out there and help my guys and help my team get a win.”
  • While T.J. McConnell emerged as Brett Brown‘s “primary ball-handler” with the Sixers, he projects to play behind Ben Simmons and Jerryd Bayless in 2017/18. When asked about the possibility of being a third-string point guard, McConnell told Keith Pompey of Philly.com it wouldn’t impair his outlook. “Look, I’m not here to make coaches’ or players’ or front offices’ life more difficult. I’m here to do what they want me to do,” McConnell said. “They want me to be third string, I’m not going accept it. I’m going to work hard to try to be first and second string. But I’m not going to moan and complain about it. I’m going to work hard like I did this year.”

Kyle Lowry Returns To Court For Raptors

Kyle Lowry will suit up for the Raptors in their game against the Pistons tonight and he’ll do so without any minutes restriction, according to Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link). Lowry hasn’t played since the All-Star break because of a wrist injury.

The point guard did some light shooting earlier this week and at the time he said his goal was to be ready by playoff time. He told reporters that he still had pain in his wrist, but added that he wouldn’t need medical clearance to play.

“No no no. It’s me, Kyle Lowry, who’s going to clear me. That’s who’s going to clear me,” Lowry said.

Lowry was playing exceptional basketball prior to being sidelined, as I detailed in an early season edition of Fantasy Hoops. The 3-time All-Star was averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 41.7% from behind the arc on nearly eight attempts per contest. He was also sporting a career-high 23.0 player efficiency rating and had true shooting percentage of 62.4%, which is also the best in his career.

Kyle Lowry Practices; Return Date Still Uncertain

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who has been sidelined since the All-Star break by a right wrist injury, participated in practice today, tweets Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports.

Lowry only did some “light shooting” with his right hand, but it’s still a significant step for a player that Toronto will need in the postseason. An All-Star the past three years, Lowry was averaging 22.8 points and 6.9 assists per game at the time of the injury. He said the decision on when to return will be up to him. (Twitter link).

Coach Dwane Casey offered few clues as to how Lowry looked today, but Lewenburg says it’s clear that he is making progress (Twitter link). “I’m not going to get into specifics on when Kyle’s coming back, what did he do today, did he use the bathroom this morning,” Casey said (Twitter link).

Lowry told reporters that he has set a goal to be ready by playoff time (Twitter link). He still has pain in the wrist and would like to be fully healed before he plays again. Lowry, who underwent surgery February 28th, said he remains on schedule with doctors’ original projections of four to six weeks. He has ruled himself out of Tuesday’s game at Indiana. (Twitter link).

Asked if he has to get medical clearance, Lowry responded, “No no no. It’s me, Kyle Lowry, who’s going to clear me. That’s who’s going to clear me.” (Twitter link)

Hoops Links: Lowry, Antetokounmpo, NCAA Tournament

On Sundays, we link to some of the very best work from around the basketball blogosphere. Do you have a link to a great basketball blog post – either your own or someone else’s – that you want to see featured on Hoops Rumors? Send it to us at HoopsLinks@gmail.com. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Tucker, Long

Kyle Lowry, who’s been sidelined since the All-Star break because of a wrist injury, can become a free agent at the season. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said there’s “no question” that the team will try to bring him back, as Scott Stinson of The National Post passes along.

“You have to remember that, everything that has happened to this team in the last few years, Kyle has been at the forefront of that,” Ujiri tells Stinson.

Lowry was having an exceptional year heading into the All-Star break. “Before the injury, you could argue he was one of the top five players in the league this season,” the GM added.

It’s also arguable that out of all the teams to see a player go down due to injury, the Raptors suffered the biggest loss with Lowry being sidelined. The 31-year-old was the team’s leader in player efficiency and he was one of the best from behind the arc, which I detailed in an early season edition of Fantasy Hoops.

Lowry can become a free agent this offseason by activating the Early Termination option in his contract. All signs point to him doing just that, which means he would turn down his 2017/18 $12MM salary. Stinson believes it’s fair to wonder whether the team should offer a massive five-year deal to a player who will be 36-year-olds at the end of it. However, the scribe believes it’s a bigger gamble to try to replace Lowry, a player who’s Toronto unquestioned leader.

“The way he goes,” Uriji said about Lowry. “Is the way we go.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Holly MacKenzie of NBA.com examines how P.J. Tucker has helped the Raptors stay afloat in the Eastern Conference. Tucker, who came to Toronto at this year’s deadline, will be a free agent at the season.
  • Shawn Long, who recently signed a three-year deal with the Sixers, was originally added to provide Philadelphia with depth, but by playing hard, he’s been able to carve out a role with the team, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Long started the season in the D-League, but his teammates believe he belongs in the NBA. “He’s an NBA player, man,” Gerald Henderson said. “He’s aggressive. He’s not scared. He goes out there and plays the same way he did in the D-League.”
  • Jerryd Bayless will workout at the Sixers‘ new practice facility this summer rather than going home to Phoenix as he has done in the past, Pompey relays via Twitter. Bayless signed a three-year deal worth $27MM last offseason, but he suffered a wrist injury earlier this season, which limited him to just three games with his new team.
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