After a day of rumors that the Lakers were “seriously engaged” with the Toronto Raptors in talks to acquire Kyle Lowry, general managers Rob Pelinka and Masai Ujiri ultimately couldn’t agree on a deal.
Following tons of talks with the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Lakers, Lowry will stay in Toronto, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Raptors are keeping Kyle Lowry, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
It’s part of a no-deal deadline for the Lakers:
The Lakers have no moves pending, sources tell ESPN. The trade deadline came and went with the roster unchanged. LAL will now turn its focus to the buyout market and has two open roster spots to fill. Team recognizes health will be ultimate factor in potential success this year— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 25, 2021
Lowry is in the last year of a contract that is paying him $30.5 million this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and is averaging 17.4 points, 7.5 assists and 5.6 rebounds and shooting 42.4% from the field and 36.7% from three in his 14th NBA season. He would have given the Lakers another playmaker to spell LeBron James’ responsibility there, and importantly has plenty of experience playing off of other star ballhandlers like DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard, serving as a dynamic threat both on and off the ball who would have fit in seamlessly to the Lakers’ defensive culture as a voracious charge-taker. He currently ranks first in the NBA in both drawn charges per game (0.49) and total charges this season (18).
However, it seems the price was too high for a 35-year-old on an expiring contract, given that the Raptors wanted the ultimately untouchable Talen Horton-Tucker, according to multiple reports:
Shams on Stadium: "The focus now around the league is the future of Kyle Lowry."— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 25, 2021
Says the Raptors remain engaged with Heat and Lakers. Lakers offering Schroder+KCP package, Heat offering Robinson-led package.
Says THT and Herro inclusion are the hold-ups.
Dealing a promising young rotation player with upside like Horton-Tucker in addition to two starters in Caldwell-Pope and Schröder would have been a heavy price to pay for Lowry. If the Lakers wanted to go all-in for a title this year it would have been understandable, but doing so would have been a huge gamble. It’s hard to fault the front office for balking there, and instead deciding to roll with a team that looked incredibly promising when it was whole instead of getting even older.
Whether this is ultimately viewed as the right move in hindsight will depend on how a) how this year ends for the Lakers and b) how good Horton-Tucker ultimately becomes, but in the moment, it’s hard to argue against the choice the team made at this fork in the road for the organization as it looks to defend its title.