Chris Broussard is saying something about the Raptors in his Insider column. The most notable of which is:
The Raptors had talked with clubs about trading both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but their sudden surge after the Rudy Gay trade has the front office stuck.
In the summer, Marc Stein reported that the Raptors were in talks with the Clippers regarding a trade for Eric Bledsoe (who then got shipped to the Suns).
In December, Stein again reported that the Raptors and Knicks were in trade talks regarding Kyle Lowry, and that the Raptors’ asking price was too high.
My guess is that this is old news being regurgitated.
Then comes the interesting bit:
One GM told me that if the Raptors start losing, they’ll likely trade Lowry. But if they keep winning, they won’t move him for fear of the PR hit. “For Masai, this is a horrible situation long-term because Lowry’s playing himself into an All-Star position and you can’t just let an All-Star walk away,” another GM said. “I think Masai’s thinking, ‘It’s never been about this year, so let’s get what we can for Lowry.’ But if I’m a team that needs a starting point guard, I’d wait until the summer to go after Lowry.”
I disagree with this assessment because it makes Masai Ujiri out to look like a guy who goes which way the wind blows. To think that this piece is suggesting that Ujiri’s decision to trade or not trade Lowry is based on winning or losing a handful of games between now and February 20 (trade deadline) is ridiculous. I would like to believe Ujiri is slightly more savvy and holds a more long-term view of the situation, regardless of near-term results.
The issue here is that the Raptors may well have a verbal agreement to extend Lowry, but are prohibited by salary cap rules of offering him the money agreed upon via mid-season extension, and it’s the summer that they’re waiting for, which is when his Bird rights come into play.
The likely situation is also that Kyle Lowry may well be on the table (and even DeRozan for that matter), but Ujiri’s price is high, as reported since July by multiple, reputable sources. If someone is willing to bite, great, if not, we got pretty good players on our hands. In that sense, it’s a lot like selling a Drake OVO t-shirt on eBay for $250. If someone’s willing to buy it for that, it’s all yours. If not, I got me a fashionable shirt which the ladies love.
And also let’s not forget Lowry’s recent quote, and his obvious camaraderie with DeMar DeRozan:
“I Love Toronto And Want To Remain A Raptor”
I remember when people were suggesting that he’d demand a trade as soon as Rudy Gay was moved, and look how that turned out.
Long story short, it’s Masai Ujiri who holds the upper hand in any trade negotiation. At worst, he’ll overpay for Kyle Lowry, but don’t once think that NBA GMs (other than the Knicks, maybe) aren’t considering the contract year motivation Lowry is playing with. If he loses him for nothing, well, in that case we’re forced to conclude that his value on the market wasn’t acceptable to begin with.