BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The Raptors have beaten out the Heat, Lakers, Houston and probably a bunch of other teams to retain Kyle Lorwry – the marquee free-agent PG this off-season. The Raptors had met with Lowry on Tuesday, which was after that greasy Rockets GM and Kevin McHale had tried to turn Lowry’s head. Made no matter. The Raptors $12M/yr offer, which includes an ETO for Lowry after three years, was enough to get the deal done.

It took a little longer than it needed to, which made fans nervous, but Lowry has chosen the Raptors despite being offered similar money from Houston. This goes to show you his faith in a) the organization, b) his teammates, and c) the city. Losing Lowry would have been devastating, no matter what the Raptors received in a S&T, and his return means that the Raptors can pick up where they left off from last season, rather than start anew at the point. The Raptors have now set themselves up a window of contention for at least three years in the East, with DeRozan and Lowry leading the charge. The key guys are there, the role players are there as well, and if further small but right moves are made (e.g., Lou Williams), the Raptors just might find themselves competing for the East.

The early signing of Lowry also bodes well in retaining other free-agents, namely Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, who have to see this re-signing as a signal of intent from the Raptors. Most of all, though, from a fans perspective it feels awesome to beat out top-level competition without overpaying Lowry. In the past this franchise has always had to compensate for their basketball situation by overpaying for talent, and this signing hopefully marks a fork in the road where the Raptors basketball situation was more attractive than other teams, and ultimately made Lowry’s decision for him.

Congratulations to Masai Ujiri for pulling this one though. Unlike Bryan Colangelo who gambled with Chris Bosh and lost, Ujiri’s decision to stay put during the season has paid off as he retains his prized free-agent in the face of fierce competition.

Lowry averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals last season – all career highs.  Now the question is whether this was a contract year bump, or Lowry turning the page and finding himself as a player.  Time will tell, and a huge factor will be Lowry’s offseason and what his shape is in training camp.  Watching Lowry last season, it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s the type of player that will give anything less than 100% (never has in his career), and we hope that this big-money contract motivates him to excel further and prove why he’s deserving of the money.

After starting his career in Memphis in 2006, and then being shipped to Houston in February 2009, Lowry was acquired by Bryan Colangelo in July 2012 for a first-round draft pick (which turned out to be Steven Adams).  Safe to say that that was a very good deal.

Very happy time to be a Raptors fan.

Big ups to @WojYahooNBA – what a reporter?!

UPDATE 1: Salary Cap Impact

Sam taking over for Zarar (who is currently sucking his thumb in bed with a big smile on his face)

Below is the Raptors cap situation:

Player 2014/2015
DeMar Derozan $9,500,000
Lou Williams $5,450,000
Amir Johnson $7,000,000
Landry Fields $6,250,000
Kyle Lowry $12,000,000
Chuck Hayes $5,958,750
Steve Novak $3,445,947
Jonas Valanciunas $3,678,360
Tyler Hansbrough $3,326,235
Patrick Patterson $4,319,474
Marcus Camby * $646,609
Terrence Ross $2,793,960
Greivis Vasquez $3,203,780
Nando De Colo $1,828,750
Julyan Stone $948,163
Dwight Buycks $816,482
Bruno Caboclo $1,134,500
Lucas Nogueria $1,371,200
TOTAL $71,166,510
Cap room -$7,966,510
Luxury Tax room $5,833,490

 

What’s key to note is that with Lowry’s deal on the books, the Raptors have an additional ~$5.8mill to offer both Vasquez and Patterson on top of their qualifying offers. Factor in that both Buycks and Stone have unguaranteed contracts (a total of $1,764,645), and the Raptors can top off both Vasquez and Patterson, potentially, while avoiding the tax.

Update 2: Framing This Achievement

by: Sam Holako

This is a big deal. It’s a really big deal. Not only did Masai get Lowry’s blood signature on a contract, he did so convincingly, sending a signal around the league that:

  1. This team means business
  2. Toronto is a premier destination
  3. The Raptors look out for their own

Lowry wanted to stay here, but he was heading into his prime; coming off an all-star calibre season; a blocked shot from the 2nd round; and a rehabilitated image that had the rest of the league tripping over themselves to sign him. It says a lot that he chose a young up and coming team over championship caliber squads that he literally would have been the final piece on.

What shouldn’t be lost here is that Lowry’s been locked up just two days into free agency, giving Masai & Co. plenty of time to shift gears in dealing with both Vasquez and Patterson. With the cap impact bright as day, Ujiri can sit back and let the market dictate the price for both players, knowing that there is probably enough money in the bank to pay a market rate for both. Ben Gordon’s ridiculous contract (2yr/$9m) has me a bit concerned at what Vasquez could demand, but Zarar pegged his market at ~$3.7m, and with Ujiri’s ability to get up over $5m, we should be good. Patterson too, but I’m less concerned with him for some reason.

Update 3: Next Steps

by Sam Holako

It makes too much sense to bring Vasquez (and Patterson) back for it not to happen. While Patterson’s stretch abilities are crucial, I’m much more comfortable with the Raptors going into the season with Hansbrough, Hayes, and Novak being over extended than De Colo and a potentially crippled Williams pantomiming at the point. Fortunately the money should be there for both, and assuming they both come back, the Raptors can field a rotation of:

Point Guard: Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez, Nando De Colo
Shooting Guard: Terrence Ross, Lou Williams, Nando De Colo
Small Forward: DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Tbd Wing (you really don’t think Fields and Novak are an answer to any serious question, do you?)
Power Forward: Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough
Center: Jonas Valancuinas, Chuck Hayes, Lucas Nogueira*

Still not ECF caiber, but you get a starting calibre wing in there, move Ross to the bench, and we’re really cooking…Deng would look NICE here!

Also worth considering is the importance of the Lou Williams trade, and it’s impact on both Buycks and Stone. I would be VERY surprised to see those two in the lineup (we might get another glimpse of them in summer league, because, why not?) come training camp considering their deals can be cut at a whim at no cost and all savings; that’s just a win.

If Ujiri decides not to use the ~$5.8m, then the full mid-level becomes available. I wont pretend to know what that means, but it’s worth keeping in your back pocket. William will shed some light on that later.