That whole thing about DeMar DeRozan not influencing Kyle Lowry’s free agent decision in any way? It may be true in the spirit that the BFFs meant it, but it may not be completely earnest in the sense that the All-Star backcourt may still discuss basketball matters and figure out a way the Toronto Raptors can move forward with the pair together.
To wit, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports that DeRozan and head coach Dwane Casey visited Lowry in the Bay Area this week. Specifics are mostly unclear, though Haynes passes along that part of the intention was for Casey to “expose his players to the NBA Finals culture.”
If nothing else, this pretty clearly shows that the Raptors intend to retain Lowry, if he’ll stay, and that Casey and DeRozan will play a part in convincing him. (It also pretty strongly suggests Casey will be at the helm next year.) It’s possible that Casey, DeRozan, and Lowry were discussing the specifics of the potential “culture reset” that president Masai Ujiri had mentioned, and other ways the team can improve without much wiggle room in free agency and with LeBron James still existing.
Norman Powell was also at Game 1 of the NBA Finals and reportedly attended the meeting. That could just be because he lives and trains in the area, but Lowry and DeRozan are fond of Powell, and he could be a bigger part of what they want to do next season if everyone stays together.
Whatever the case, we won’t know much on the Lowry front until July 1. Lowry isn’t going to tip his hand and hurt his own market, and the Raptors aren’t going to publicly announce they’ve moved on until Lowry signs elsewhere. If Lowry returns, everything falls from there, including what could be a loose handshake deal with Serge Ibaka, the futures of P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson, and any subsequent tweaking the team needs to do to cut their luxury tax bill and improve the roster. Everything flows from Lowry, which is why meetings like this taking place a month before free agency begins – and just weeks after the season ended – are notable.
Sorry to not add much context here, but it’s nothing we haven’t covered before and I gotta get outta here. As a programming note, this is the last you’ll hear from me until June 14. Everyone else will be holding it down in my stead. Hope you all have wonderful weekends/weeks/fortnights/whatever.