The Toronto (Tampa Bay) Raptors 2020/21 season has been a true roller coaster up to this point. They have played all of their “home” games 1,000 miles south of Scotiabank Arena. They kicked things off with a horrendous 2-8 start before battling their way back to .500. Just as things were turning around, Covid-19 kicked down the door and took virtually their entire coaching staff as well as half of their starting line up out of action. They lost back-to-back games heading into the All-Star break.
Through this adversity, the volume of Kyle Lowry’s trade chatter has been at an all-time high. These rumors heated up even more after news broke last week that the point guard sold his Toronto home. Today, the speculation escalated even further as Ryen Russillo of the Ringer reported that Lowry has been openly communicating that he is about to be traded.
Lowry is on an expiring contract, and at age 35, both he and the Raptors front office have some difficult decisions to make.
The Raptors need to make a change to improve their standing in the Eastern Conference and create a more balanced lineup. In the past two calendar years, the Raptors are 16-1 with Kyle Lowry out of the lineup. They have their point guard of the future in Fred VanVleet. They also have a young first-round draft pick to develop in Malachi Flynn.
As noted, Lowry is 35 and is watching his window for another title shrink with each passing day. Parting with a long-time franchise player is never an easy move to make, but this may be the ideal time for both parties to make a move.
From a PR standpoint, and out of respect for arguably their greatest player in franchise history, the Raptors would likely look to trade Lowry to a preferred destination.
Kyle Lowry grew up in Philadelphia and attended college at Philly’s own Villanova University. The Philadelphia 76ers are the top team in the Eastern Conference but need to bolster their own firepower to have a realistic chance of fending off the super-team Brooklyn Nets. They would offer Lowry a great opportunity to join a great team and fight for his second championship ring.
For the Raptors, a trade with Philadelphia would not necessarily be the most advantageous to the franchise in terms of acquiring assets. The Miami Heat and even the LA Clippers could offer equal-to or greater hauls. It does appear at this point, however, that the 76ers have the advantage in trade talks. Based on Russillo’s comments, a potential trade is looking more and more imminent.
The 76ers do have some solid building blocks and draft capital to make it worth Toronto’s while. The Raptors would also be sending off their long-time team captain on a positive note. Let’s take a look at what a potential move could look like.
The Sixers receive:
- Kyle Lowry
- 2023 second-round pick
The Raptors receive:
- Danny Green
- Mattise Thybulle
- Tony Bradley
- 2021 first-round pick
The 76ers add yet another All-Star level player to their lineup, giving them a “Big 4” of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Kyle Lowry to challenge the Net’s “Big 3” of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant at the top of the East. Lowry brings a new level of toughness and leadership that the Embiid-Simmons era 76ers have long been lacking.
The Raptors get back a veteran, three-time champion in Danny Green, in part to make the money work (Green has a salary of $14.63 million this year to help offset Lowry’s $30 million). Green also brings top-notch wing defense and very good three-point shooting to the table. Green could either come off the bench or challenge for the starting two-guard spot next to Fred VanVleet.
The Raptors would also receive a high-ceiling prospect and elite wing defender in Matisse Thybulle. He would instantly become a part of Toronto’s rotation and is under contract for the next three years. Thybulle would have a great opportunity to develop under Nick Nurse and his staff.
The Raptors would also receive Tony Bradley, a 23-year old center with a 7’5” wingspan. Most importantly, they get another first-round draft pick for the 2021 draft.
While parting with Lowry will be heartbreaking to Raptors fans, they will have the closure of sending their long-time point guard where he wants to go. They will also receive a small haul for the future, rather than risk seeing him walk for nothing in the offseason.
The 76ers, meanwhile, would cement themselves as a top-two team in the East and a contender to dethrone the Lakers in the finals this year.
The March 25 trade deadline is quickly approaching. More to come!