With the disappointing ending to the season this past Sunday & numerous rumors about Kyle Lowry’s mindset entering free agency. This is shaping up to be one of the most intense as well as interesting off-seasons in the Toronto Raptors history.
With so much uncertainty about what will be this franchise’s direction moving forward has already spawned numerous articles, Twitter rants & heated debates between fans it is clear this is the most important off-season this franchise has ever faced.
The future of this team begins & ends with Kyle Lowry.
The Raptors have never had more sustained success than what has happened over the past 4 seasons. This team has won multiple division titles, established arguably two top 25 players in the league and has had back to back 50 win seasons for the first time ever. Arguably the biggest factor to that success has been the play of Kyle Lowry. He has easily been the best regular season player the Raptors have had over that time. He is a leader of the team & it is a proven fact that they play better with him on the floor than not.
K-Low is a 3 time All-star, made the All NBA 3rd team in 2016, a recent Olympic Gold medalist & has just completed a career year this past season. He has earned the right to get paid & has the keys to this franchise. It is a pretty good argument that the Raptors would not be in this position without him, & keeping him would more than likely continue this recent success for at least another 2 years.
Reasons to Move On
Although the Raptors have seen recent success they have never had prior to these past 4 years they share a similar fate with the Los Angeles Clippers. They also have major decisions to make starting with paying their starting point guard Chris Paul. Whom has also brought them success their franchise has never experienced prior to his arrival. However just like the Clippers, the Raptors are at a crossroads of whether to keep K-Low & this core together & remaining where they are, (a perennial playoff team but no hopes of winning a title) or moving on from their star PG in hopes of moving forward towards future long term success.
Another key factor & probably the biggest is the fact for the past 3 seasons after the All-star break Lowry’s play has continually suffered. He has consistently been injured entering the playoffs & has posted historically low shooting percentages in the history of the NBA playoffs. These are major issues plaguing the Raptors front office as to whether or not he can continue carrying this load as a team leader for the foreseeable future.
Stories are already running rampant of what might Kyle Lowry do this off-season. There have been rumblings that he will consider going to a Western Conference team. There’s the fact that he has said his number one priority entering free agency is to win a ring. (something the Raps won’t contend for as long as Lebron is in Cleveland or they get another star player)
Has he done enough to warrant a max contract? Probably not. Max contract players step their game up the brighter the lights get. But as a fan of the Raptors I have two major fears if we decide not to keep Kyle. One is going back to the dark days of 30 to low 40 win & missing the playoffs seasons. The second reason is the most important.
The last time a team gave up on an All-star point guard with recent injury problems was the Dallas Mavericks. That player went on to become a two time MVP, set the league on fire with assists & spawn great success for the Phoenix Suns franchise. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that player was Steve Nash.
The Raptors are at a major Crossroads.