The lack of a star hasn’t bothered Ujiri in the past, though. His 2013 Denver Nuggets may have flamed out in the postseason after injuries and matchup issues hit the squad at the absolute worst time, but Ujiri dove into building that borderline faceless crew with gusto. Lowry is a free agent in his prime that will receive quite a bit of consideration from desperate NBA teams looking to get something – anything – out of all the cap space they’ve accrued this summer, but Ujiri isn’t going to let ego get in the way of keeping Colangelo’s crew. Masai also knows what he’s doing, though, and it would be hard to him getting into a bidding war should some team go way over the top with an initial offer for Lowry. If the Raptors let John Salmons (at just $1 million guaranteed for 2014-15, it’s likely) and Greivis Vasquez (less likely, and a potential restricted free agent) walk this summer, the team will have double-figure cap space if Lowry jets somewhere else and all the cap holds are renounced. There are still options here.
“I’ve fallen in love with the city,” Vasquez said. “I really embrace and I am committed to the city and the fans. I’m not taking this for granted. I’m saying it because I mean it. I think we have the best fans in the NBA and that’s motivation, that’s inspiration right there to get better and do better. I know a lot of us celebrating because we had a great season, but we’re not. We’re not satisfied. We want more, we want to bring the excitement to the city and next year we have to be more hungry and more ambitious.”
Lowry has already expressed his interest in returning to the Raptors. At the end of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, he used words like “us” and “we” when discussing the future, leaving many to believe that the 28-year-old will do what is possible to return. However, Lowry reportedly wants a nice long-term deal and the Raptors never favor those kind of deals. At one point Lowry was trade bait before a mid-season turnaround which only secures suspicion the Raptors have no intentions of giving the point guard some kind of max deal. Lowry will not lack suitors in free agency. The Los Angeles Lakers have made the Raptors point guard a target. In need of someone to replace Steve Nash in the coming future, Lowry would be a solid pick. Nash might not be able to play next season even though he intends to and the Lakers need a player ready to go. Lowry would be a huge upgrade over Nash whether the veteran is healthy or not. The New York Knicks are also keeping a close eye on the Lowry situation. The team attempted to trade for him during the mid-season trading period. They are in need of an upgrade at the point guard position after Raymond Felton failed to do much of anything. Even with Phil Jackson manning the ship, the team could still have lingering interest in Lowry and might be willing to offer him the contract of his choice, especially if Carmelo Anthony leaves.
Raptors pursued free agent Eric Griffin, will bring him to Vegas Summer League entry, sources tell RealGM. Griffin also open to Orlando SL.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 12, 2014
“Kyle has had a phenomenal year. I thought Kyle was a huge, huge key to our season … Negotiating is easy for me if we want Kyle to be here and Kyle wants to be here,” general manager Masai Ujiri told reporters. “Negotiating becomes tough when either party maybe does not want to the player to be here or the player does not want to be here. I think we’ll be fair with Kyle and we’ll figure it out.”
While I have great admiration for Masai Ujiri, expecting him to find a quality player even in a deep draft like this one is too much to ask. I’d rather get creative. The pick has value, but perhaps for someone else more than the Raps. How about we package it with Landry Fields’ expiring contract and find a team piling up the picks? Philadelphia and Milwaukee are both more than 2 seasons away from contention, and might be interested in our selection as they rebuild. Would Masai’s old team, the Denver Nuggets, go for a deal like this? They might, given what a disappointing season they endured. The Nuggets may be in a mood to jettison some people, in a change for change’s sake move. We could use J.J. Hickson to shore up our front court. Fields and our pick go the other way, and no money need accompany the deal; the salary cap needle barely moves either way.