Kyle Lowry
Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

Kyle Lowry Is the Most Important Player in Franchise History

Sadly It’s time for one of the greatest players in franchise history to be traded. Kyle Lowry is arguably the most important player in Raptors franchise history. From 2006-2012 Kyle Lowry played for the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets as a quality starting point guard. In his seventh season, he was traded to the Raptors. He came to the franchise wanting to be a winner and saying that he would be the greatest point guard to play for the Raptors in a media availability session following the trade. In his first season with the team, they finished 34-48 and missing the playoffs for the 5th season in a row.

In his second season with the team, Lowy’s Raptors career was almost short-lived as he minutes away from being traded to the New York Knicks. Lowry was quoted as saying “I thought I was gone. It was business,” & “I was ready for my new journey. There was no joke. I was packed and ready to go.” in an interview given to The Athletic. The trade fell through due to the Knick’s owner’s blocking the trade in fear of being fleeced. The Rest Is History.

He holds multiple franchise All-Time leader records like total assists, steals, three-pointers, and triple-doubles. Lowry has made seven straight All-Star games and five straight appearances in the postseason. Kyle was also a key part of the championship run in 2019 and especially in game 6 of the NBA finals. But we are three years removed from that and the Raptors roster also looks much different. Kyle Lowry has accomplished very much as a member of the Raptors organization but it’s time to move on.

What Lead Up to this Conclusion

The 2021 Raptors team is at a crossroads when it comes to the direction of the franchise. The season prior the Raptors were a gritty team and a threat to make the NBA Finals even without Kawhi Leonard. However, the team was defeated in seven games to the Boston Celtics in the ECSF. Then they lost key rotation pieces in free agency like fan-favorite Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in hopes of maintaining cap flexibility to chase big free agents. That ended up backfiring when their main target Giannis Antetokounmpo ended up re-signing with the Milwaukee Bucks. It seems that the raptors truly didn’t have a backup plan as they entered the season with clear holes and flaws in the roster that don’t have easy solutions.

Lowry is still a productive player at this point in his career but no longer an All-Star level player with the capabilities of single handily willing a team to wins. The Raptors got off to a pretty poor start this season with a 2-8 record ten games into the season. When you replace Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol with Alex Len and Aaron Baynes the results will not be great. Even the Emergence of Chris Boucher and improved play from Fred Van Vleet and OG Anunoby was not enough to fix this team’s woes. The Raptors were ranked 2nd in defensive rating last season and have dropped to 16th this season.

Why it makes sense to move on from Lowry now

Kyle Lowry is 34 years old and there is no clear path to contention for the Raptors. The team is currently the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 17-22 record. Even if they made the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed. Their reward would be a likely first-round exit from the hands of the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors have a clear choice to make. Moving Lowry will allow him to contribute to another team with championship aspirations while he still is productive. A trade would also give the Raptors young players or draft picks as they build towards the future. Keeping Lowry will only harm the franchise in the long run if he were to walk for nothing.

Kyle Lowry has had some memorable seasons with the Toronto Raptors filled with miracle shots and amazing plays in the championship run. However, all good things have to come to an end. It would be a mistake for Lowry to remain a Toronto Raptor after the March 25th Trade Deadline. Lowry has commented on the uncertainty of his future with the team saying “I will retire as a Toronto Raptor”. So no matter what happens the greatest player in franchise history will find a way to return to Toronto.