Roundtable Reaction: Kyle Lowry & Free Agency

Title: Roundtable Reaction: Kyle Lowry & Free Agency
Date: July 3, 2014
Original Source: Raptors Republic
Synopsis: I took part in a roundtable discussion about the Toronto Raptors re-signing point guard Kyle Lowry, hooray!

What were your first thoughts on the signing?

Tim Chisholm: I was impressed with how Masai Ujiri handled this whole situation. He expressed a strong desire to re-sign Lowry, yet despite his public optimism, he didn’t overextend the organization to bring him back. He made an offer, below what many thought he’d have to pay, refused to cave on a fifth year to the deal, and got him back on day two of free agency. As much as Lowry coming back is huge news for an organization with abandonment issues, the fact that Ujiri held firm to certain principles suggests a maturity to doing business that this club has rarely demonstrated in the past. That, more than anything, is what impressed me when the news broke last night.

Blake Murphy: This is fantastic. Forget whether the dollar figure actually represents Lowry’s actual worth – it’s close enough that it doesn’t really matter, since the Raptors retained him. If you’re of the mind Toronto has to overpay to keep players, you should be tap-dancing at this price. If you think Lowry should have signed a team-friendlier deal, get real. I’ve seen very little criticism, which is a miracle considering this is, after all, the internet, and I think that speaks to how close to “fair” on both sides this deal lands. Most importantly, however, the team has it’s avatar, it’s heart, it’s soul back, for at least three more years, and he’s chosen to stay. This is enormous.

William Lou: I was shocked and surprised. With all the rumors floating around of the Lakers, Rockets and Heat pursuing him, I was prepared for the worst. I figured the Raptors would either have to overpay to keep him, or lose him to a team like the Rockets (who I believe could have offered him up to $12 million before shedding Lin’s deal). It was a pleasant surprise. I wrote out my raw, uncut, emotive reaction last night.

Garrett Hinchey: Sweet, sweet relief, which I suppose doubles as euphoria in Raptor fan vernacular. As much as returning to Toronto seemed the obvious, rational decision for Lowry, years and years of disappointment have conditioned me to expect the worst (and those continuous Lakers/Heat/Rockets rumours coming from the US media didn’t help, either). Short term, the signing means the Raptors will field, more or less, the same unit that won 48 games last season. Long term, this is a sign that the change in culture we all felt last year was this franchise truly turning the corner, and not just a blip on the radar.

Nick Reynoldson: This is an actual text message I sent when I first heard the news.
Then I finally uncrossed my fingers and toes.

Barry Taylor: I became very emotional. I’m 36 years old and have no kids. I’m sure this is what it must feel like when your child first tells you they love you.

Zarar Siddiqi: Holy shit! We beat out big name teams to keep Lowry – probably the first time a player has chosen the Raptors for their basketball situation, and not pure money.

How do you rate it against some of the other deals for guards that were signed in the last two days?

Tim: There really isn’t any comparison. Not only was the Jodie Meeks signing laughable and the Avery Bradley signing a little uncomfortably high, but in the past those were exactly the types of deals that were getting attached to the Raptors. Those kinds of “who were they bidding against?” overpays that made it so hard to take the Raptors seriously as a sustainable winning club. With Lowry, the club had publicly-acknowledged competitors and still refused to engage in an over-the-top bidding war. I would say that the only guard deal that Lowry rates on par with is Shaun Livingston, a guy that made maybe a million or so more than a team would have wanted to pay but ultimately fits enough of a need justify the price.

Blake: You serious, bro? Avery Bradley got 4-32, Ben Gordon got 2-9, Darren Collison got 3-16, Jodie Meeks got 3-20, and it’s probably only going to get crazier as team’s strike out on the top names. Lowry is now paid like a top-10 point guard, yes, but he also signed for roughly fair value when the market is determining that fair value is no longer a thing that exists.

Willie: didn’t think the mid-tier market for shooting would affect Lowry. He was in a different class of free-agents. Lowry was only in play for teams with hopes to contend, without a point guard, that also had major cap room. It was a bidding war between a select handful of teams, meaning the market was different. That being said, Lowry’s deal is much better value than Meeks for $19 million or Ben Gordon for $9 million.

Garrett: Are you serious? You mean the Ben Gordon and Jodie Meeks cash-splosions? I think GMs around the league are breathing a sigh of relief looking at Lowry’s deal, which may be a tad higher then the Raptors had hoped, but was certainly within the scope of fair market value, given the other craziness we’ve seen this offseason. Shawn Livingston’s deal, like Lowry’s, was a slight overpay, but you can’t compare the two – one is an effective backup combo guard, the other is a borderline all-star and franchise leader. Unless Lowry gains a hundred pounds or breaks both legs and both arms, there’s no way the Raptors regret this deal from a cash standpoint. There are far worse sins than paying a $10 million player $12 million.

Nick: I think its a fair deal. He got what he deserved. You can’t really compare it to the other deals that have happened so far. Some of them have been insane. I’m looking in your direction Ben Gordon. Four years, $48 million is great as long as Lowry doesn’t celebrate the pay day too much this summer and come back fat.

Barry: I was unaware there were other point guards in the league.

Zarar: Fair deal. It’s not so much about what guys like Livingston and Gordon got, it’s what Houston offered and what Miami was prepared to.

Where does Lowry rank on the list of all-time Raptors alpha-dogs?

Tim: It depends on how we’re ranking them. In terms of pure quality of play it would  be third, behind Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. However, if we’re ranking on a more abstract scale that takes into account things like personality, fit within the city/team, and a willingness to embrace the Raptors over more publicized suitors, then he could well surpass Carter and Bosh in time, so long as the wins keep coming. He bought a lot of goodwill last night, and that might well mean more to this fan base than all of the All-Star berths achieved by Toronto’s prior superstars.

Blake: I don’t know. It’s been two years, one of them mostly a write-off. He’s safely in the top-five in terms of “player quality” alpha, but he may be the most representative of the team at that point in time than any player in franchise history. That’s why I always refer to him as the team’s avatar…I’m not sure how he ranks as an “alpha dog,” but he’s right near the top for most representative leader of a team.

Willie: I’m not great with the Raptors’ history, so I’ll leave this to the old-timers (looking at you, Zarar). Lowry is as headstrong as Jarryd Bayless, only he’s actually good at NBA basketball. So there’s that?

Garrett: TBD. In my heart, he’s number one, just because he chose to spend his prime here in Toronto, rather than bolt when paydays – and southern markets – came calling. On the court, few teams take on the personality of their leaders the way the Raptors follow Lowry. But I still say we don’t know exactly where Lowry will land on this list yet – it’ll depend on the pieces they put around him and if they’re willing to buy into his leadership style and attitude, which can both be his greatest strength and weakness. If he can take this team to the Eastern Conference Finals, he’ll be a god in this city.

Nick: Number 2 behind Vince and I’m confident he will continue to close that gap.

Barry: I can’t think of a better leader in franchise history. Everyone else left when given the option.

Zarar: Slightly ahead of Antonio Davis as #1.

Who gets paid next? Vasquez? Patterson? Both?

Tim: Patterson. The team’s offence really sputtered last season when he messed up his elbow and had to sit out. Having bigs that can stretch the floor are key for basically any team in today’s NBA, but on a team with a driving point guard like Lowry and a shooting guard without a three-point shot, the floor spacing Patterson provides is doubly important. Plus, the market is just going to be hotter for Patterson than for Vasquez, but the Raptors remain in the drivers seat with both because they are restricted free agents. As of right now, I expect both to be back, but Patterson has to be the priority.

Blake: I think this means Vasquez is done. I’m not 100 percent on that, not even 60 percent, but I think the acquisition of Lou Williams to backup both guard slots – even if it was primarily about Ay Bay Bay and not Lou Trill – points to the team having a clear Plan B if Vasquez wants anything close to the Bradley/Collison/Meeks deals. This team is structured in a flexible manner right now, and while Vasquez would be great to bring back, the team wades into risky territory giving both he and Patterson – a more clear need and a more scarce resource on the market – deals with appreciable AAV and/or term.

Willie: They can pay both. With Lowry and Lou Williams (still weird) in place, Masai Ujiri now has more leverage over Greivis Vasquez. Patterson is a necessary piece, especially considering how Amir Johnson’s body is breaking down before our eyes. As long as they avoid paying the luxury tax, I’m entirely on-board with signing both. I’d prefer to sign both to 2-year deals, if possible.

Garrett: Patrick Patterson should be Ujiri’s next priority. The market for guards, as we’ve spoken about, has been set insanely high, while the market for Patterson has yet to heat up. I feel like the rest of the league is undervaluing him significantly (why in the hell would you pay Channing Frye $8 million when you could pay a younger, more versatile Patterson half that?) and the Raptors would be wise to strike while the league’s smartest front offices are holding out for bigger fish. I’d love to see Vasquez back, and think in the end, he will be as well, but stopgap replacements (Jameer Nelson?) are more plentiful than young stretch big men. #Bringback2Pat

Nick: Both would be amazing but the Priority has got to be Patterson. I feel like he’s got another level to his game that he will reach in the near future. Get 2Pat then go after Vasquez. We’ll find Greivis in an OVO sleeping bag outside of Masai’s office just waiting. 

Barry: Spend money to keep Patterson. Based on the way Grevais has been tweeting this off season he’ll sign for a ball boy wage.

Zarar: Neither – Patterson will sign with Orlando, Vasquez could be considered surplus to requirements since Lou Williams is here, especially if he gets a big offersheet.

Who else should the Raptors be targeting?

Tim: I still like the fit for Vince Carter on this team, even after the Lou Williams acquisition. The Raptors need a bigger wing, could use a veteran presence there, too, and Carter brings reliable three-point shooting and above-average passing to the mix, as well. Viewed dispassionately (a near impossibility when discussing as subject as volatile as Carter in Toronto), isn’t Vince Carter the player an ideal fit in Toronto’s wing rotation? I say yes. They also need rim protection, but the club may feel adding Bebe Nogueira helps enough in that arena.

Blake: They still need a big wing who can help out on defense. DeAndre Daniels might be that and he might not be, but it would be nice to have a body to join he and Landry Fields competing for that role. There are any numbers of lower-tier wings on the market who won’t make a big splash but could shore up the depth in an area of weakness, but what tier the Raptors can shop in depends on Vasquez and Patterson, because I doubt this is a team that spends into the tax. I’d say Evan Turner on a reclamation project but that doesn’t fit the need, I just really want to talk to him. Maybe the Raps can Pop the Tolli? I don’t know, so much depends on how much they have to spend.

Willie: Assuming Vasquez and Patterson return, the Raptors will have 14 bodies on the roster. If Nando de Colo signs his qualifying offer, the roster is set at 15. There also wouldn’t be any more money left. That leaves the roster as is, unfortunately. A larger wing defender would be nice. Here’s hoping Landry Fields’ returns to form. I’d expect help to come via trade during the season.

Garrett: Vince Carter will be a popular answer here among some fans, but in my mind, the team would be very wise to steer clear. This team’s biggest strengths are chemistry and identity, and as much as he fits in from an on-court standpoint, there is literally no way Carter won’t be a distraction next season as fans decide whether to embrace him or not and the team celebrates its 20th season. Furthermore, Vince is used to being the alpha-dog in Toronto, and it’s a huge gamble as to whether he’d be willing to cede the locker room to a much younger Lowry and DeRozan. I’d prefer someone like Al-Farouq Aminu, who is still young, is a capable wing defender, and doesn’t come with nearly the baggage (or the price tag) that Carter would.

Nick: Luol Deng for the right price would be an amazing piece for this young team… Vince Carter would be great as well (I just threw up in my mouth). That was the hardest sentence i’ve had to write this year. It’s hard to say what the atmosphere would be for him if he did return and how/if that would effect his play… I know it would take me a long time to get used to and God help twitter if he has a stretch of bad games… lets just stick with Luol Deng.

Barry: Short term role players. Save the cap space for KD in 2016.

Zarar: Luol Deng.

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