The Toronto Raptors are looking like a far cry from the contenders that they were last season. After losing to the Boston Celtics in a heartbreaking fashion, the Raptors also lost some key members of their roster, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. They are currently 1-6 on the season, and the question begs to be asked: should they start looking towards the future? While Masai Ujiri has been proven to be a competent GM by his masterminding of the DeMar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade, it is safe to say that letting an elite stretch 5 in Serge Ibaka go was a blunder.
With an awful record, it is conceivable that the Raptors would try to retool and make their roster younger. With that in mind, an option for them could be trading franchise legend, Kyle Lowry. The trade would be good for both Lowry and the franchise: Lowry would probably be able to compete with a franchise that is in the playoffs, while the Raptors would likely get some young assets in return. The Chauncey Billups trade to Denver comes to mind: the franchise traded their championship legend to a team where he could compete while taking their own new direction.
Kyle Lowry Is A 2021 Free Agent
Kyle Lowry is a franchise legend for the Toronto Raptors. One of the most loyal stars that Toronto has had, and a point guard that is severely underrated. With that being said, if the Raptors don't get better, it makes sense to trade Lowry, as he is in the last year of his contract. He is also a 34-year-old point guard, turning 35 in March. That would mean that he could ask for a three-year contract, to ensure that he gets paid late into his career. While Lowry's game has aged well, he is definitely entering the latter stage of his career. Lowry's last years should be spent competing for a championship or mentoring a promising young team like Chris Paul.
It will be a sad day for Raptors' fans if Kyle Lowry gets traded. But for the franchise, it could mean future prospects, and for Lowry, it could mean winning. If the Raptors are bad, he could leave to go win in other places when his contract expires. The most reasonable thing to do for the Raptors is trade Lowry to hit a rebuild while getting him to a solid team where he will be able to solidify his impact and his legacy as a player. There are promising young teams that would love to give up some kind of package for an All-Star point guard. That way, the Raptors could help their point guard get to a nice destination while getting something in return for a franchise legend.
Potential Destinations For Kyle Lowry
Any franchise that needs a point guard that can do a little bit of everything should be interested in Kyle Lowry. Lowry is an essential cog for the Raptors, and his playmaking is on par with elite point guards like Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving. While he isn't as prolific a scorer, you can rely on Lowry to make the right play every time he goes down the court, and his passing and defense are what make him great. Lowry's defense is based on his skills on the perimeter and his ability to take charges. If a team needs someone to orchestrate their offense and play hard on defense, then Lowry is a perfect option.
One team that could use a player like Kyle Lowry is the Chicago Bulls. It is a franchise with playoff aspirations. A potential trade would be centered around Otto Porter Jr. and Coby White. Lowry would bring a veteran presence to the Chicago Bulls and join Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine in trying to compete for the playoffs.
Lowry would increase the ceiling of the team, and his playmaking would help players like Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford. Zach LaVine would have an All-Star next to him and Lowry would provide someone who could run the offense and set up teammates, letting LaVine focus on scoring. Lowry next to a scoring superstar is a recipe for good things.
The New York Knicks are another destination that has a young and exciting core but could use a veteran All-Star to help the roster achieve its full potential. A trade package could be built around Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina. Lowry doesn't have to be a high usage player, and he could further help Julius Randle and RJ Barrett by being another offensive presence on the court.
Lowry, Randle, and RJ Barrett could bring playoffs basketball back to Madison Square Garden. Julius Randle is looking like he has gotten rid of his tunnel vision and improved his playmaking. RJ Barrett's shooting has shown good things so far. Adding Lowry would give the New York Knicks someone who knows what it takes to win at the highest level, and a gritty point guard that coach Thibodeau would love.
Both of the trade packages that the Raptors would get would provide some young players and salary matching. The Bulls give up one good prospect in Coby White, while the Knicks would give up players who could take some time to develop. Kevin Knox, in particular, is doing well in a limited role and could do even better if he was in the Raptors' development system: they're known for developing projects into solid NBA players.
The Toronto Raptors' Future
With a lot of the players from the Raptors' championship team from 2019 gone, it looks like the Raptors could be done contending for the foreseeable future. If they go young and develop their players, they could possibly get a good pick for the 2021 NBA Draft. Kyle Lowry and Aron Baynes are the only players over 30 on the roster, and if the Raptors choose to go in a new direction, Lowry is a very valuable trade piece.
Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are solid pieces for the future. While Siakam has been underperforming as a franchise player this year, he showed signs of life in the game against the Phoenix Suns. The Raptors could go young for a year, and try to develop talent and get a good pick. If the Raptors don't start winning, then Kyle Lowry should be traded, both so the franchise can get some young talent and also because he could go compete for a championship someplace else. The Raptors could do right by their franchise legend, and send him to a team where young players can take some of the offensive load off his shoulders.