Entering free agency, Kyle Lowry was the number one point available on several lists. With his ability to control the offense, defend at an elite level, and score with the best in the game, it was expected for many teams to attempt to woo away the point guard from the Toronto Raptors.
Eventually, Lowry re-signed with the Toronto Raptors on a deal that would net him $12 million a year, but according to the point guard himself, Toronto weren’t the favorites going into the off-season.
“[The Raptors] weren’t always the favorite, but Masai wanted to get the deal done, and it made it a lot easier,” Lowry said in Las Vegas recently after a workout. “[Miller and I] approached it as a business and so did [the Raptors]. At the end of the day, I didn’t wait for [the other teams]. I wanted to make my decision for myself.”
Which team could’ve topped the Raptors on Lowry’s list? Two teams come to mind here: the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. The Lakers had the funs to pay Lowry much more than the Raptors probably would have wanted to and the Miami Heat hypothetically presented a situation where Lowry could 1) get paid and 2) inevitable compete for a championship.
In the end, neither team were able to secure the services of Lowry for different reasons. The Lakers held out on cap space in their race for a superstar–Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dirk Nowitzki were all on their radar. The Heat were ultimately unable to afford Lowry at the $12 million price tag as they waited for LeBron James to make his decision which would’ve allowed the dominos to fall and for them to survey the free agency market with a different scope.
Now back in Toronto, the Raptors could find themselves as contenders out of the East if they make the leap a team in their position is expected to make. Without the “Big 3″ in Miami, it’s anybody’s game. And that window could allow Lowry’s return to pay huge dividends early on.