Archive for May, 2012

Kyle Lowry might want a change of scenery – expect the Raptors to kick the tires

- May 26th, 2012

Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry doesn’t sound like someone who would prefer to return to Houston next season.

On Friday, Lowry told Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle he can’t see both he and unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic coming back.

Just a few weeks after surgery to fix torn abductor muscles and a sports hernia, Lowry told Feigen:

“I don’t think so. I honestly think it would be tough. Things have to be addressed. The situation would have to be addressed.

“If things aren’t addressed coaching-wise, I guess I have to be moved.”

Lowry made it clear that he has undisclosed problems with head coach Kevin McHale. Though McHale and general manager Daryl Morey downplayed any issues, Lowry clearly is unhappy.

Morey told Feigen:

“I think Kyle and coach McHale are both winners and both competitive guys. “I don’t anticipate any issues going forward.”

At one point during the season, Lowry had to be restrained from going after the coach.

A tremendous defender and rebounder, Lowry averaged career highs of 14.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game in 47 contests (In 38 starts, Lowry’s numbers were 15.9 points, 7.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game).  However, his injuries opened the door for Dragic, who averaged 18 points, 8.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game in 28 starts of his own.

Dragic is a far better shooter and finisher than Lowry, except for from three-point range and from the free throw line, where they shoot about the same. Lowry is an elite defender at the point guard spot and a better rebounder.

For his career, Lowry has averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 assists. Lowry has two very reasonable years remaining on his contract and will earn $5.75 million in 2012-1 and $6.2 million in 2013-14.

The Raptors are extremely high on Lowry, so there is little doubt – despite Morey’s desire to keep Lowry in the fold – that he and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo will discuss a Lowry deal. If that falls through the Raptors could instead pursue Dragic, though I do not know if he is a favourite of theirs like Lowry or not.

After Lowry burned the Raptors for a game-high 26 points (including 4-for-4 from three) in a three-point win in Houston, I asked Raptors head coach Dwane Casey what he thought of Lowry and Casey lauded the guard for his toughness and ability.

“He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s their heart and soul and spirit of their team and I love the way he plays,” Casey said.

Long-time Raptor Alvin Williams, now a scout with the team, is extremely close with Lowry and is one of his mentors. Both are from Philadelphia and both played for Villanova. “Alvin is my main man,” Lowry once said.

Complicating a potential deal would be the fact that Houston would have to be sure Dragic will re-sign long-term with the club to be its starter before opting to trade Lowry. That won’t happen until July 1st, after the draft. It would likely be Toronto’s pick – 8th before Wednesday’s lottery – that Houston would be after. The Rockets own the 14th pick (again, pre-lottery) and the 16th. It’s hard to see the Rockets wanting anything besides Toronto’s pick in a potential Lowry deal since Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani won’t be on the table. DeMar DeRozan’s advanced stats likely don’t impress Morey, who is a huge believer in advanced statistical analysis.

Plus there’s the fact other teams could make better offers. Lowry and Luis Scola nearly became Lakers last season in exchange for Pau Gasol and Gasol is very much on the block again and the Rockets have always coveted him.

As well, Lowry has had injury issues including a torn ACL early in his career and has an edge. He was charged with battery after being accused of throwing a ball at a female referee during the lockout. Lowry apologized, received 100 hours of community service and impulse-control counseling.

However, for years the Raptors have lacked extremely competitive, hard-nosed players and that’s a major reason why they haven’t had much success.

Unless Dragic says he’s not coming back, Lowry’s likely moving somewhere. Would he be OK with supplanting Jose Calderon as starter in Toronto if Calderon is still seeing considerable time, some of it in the same backcourt as Lowry? Who knows.

What we do know  is he is not interested in splitting time with Dragic.

“We’re both capable starters. We both want it. It’s going to have to be a situation where they make a decision on one of us.

“It has nothing to do with Goran. I’m not happy with the way coaches handled things. If management wants to do something to keep Goran, I think I’ll have to be moved,” Lowry told Feigen.

“I think I’m still a foundation guy. You can build around me. If I’m not here, that’s welcomed. If I’m here, I guess that’s welcome, too.”

Interesting stuff indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No shortage of options for Colangelo this summer

- May 3rd, 2012

Bryan Colangelo told us last week that he has a white board in his office full of ideas.

No kidding. There are a boatload of options for the Raptors president and general manager to pursue this summer.

Does he trade for a key player or sign one? Does he bring back Jerryd Bayless or let him go? Draft the scoring guard the team desperately needs, or the prototypical small forward with range the franchise is sorely missing?

What if yet another power forward is the best available player when it is time to make a selection? Does the pick get traded?

Those are just some of the key questions.

In the next few days, we’ll provdie an early list of some players that logically might interest the Raptors and my stab at what they might cost. Today, the free agents:

Via free agency:

Goran Dragic, PG – Houston loves him and GM Daryl Morey knows his stuff, but the team also has the excellent Kyle Lowry as the incumbent starter. The Raptors would gladly take either. Unless the offers get absurd, expect the Rockets to keep both players and utilize them at the same time on occasion, since both are solid defenders.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 4 years, $28-$36 million

Steve Nash, PG: Nash almost certainly will go to a contender, but the only lottery team with a shot at him is the only Canadian team. Has a good relationship with Colangelo, obviously and would become an even bigger star in Canada by joining the Raptors, but he’s toiled a long time without a ring. Also, Dwane Casey is a defensive-minded, half-court type of coach (though he says he’d love to see Toronto more up-tempo in the future). Nash might not be the right fit since Toronto’s core is extremely young, but his arrival would get the team into the playoffs and what a story it would be.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 2 years, maximum salary.

Nic Batum SG/SF: Portland surely will match any offers for this do-it-all swingman and he has said in the past he wasn’t too pleased Toronto said he had a heart issue after he had a draft workout for the team, but money talks. If the Raptors offer him a ton, Portland might let him go. Batum can shoot, slash and defend and would be a great fit.

Projected cost: Restricted free agent, 4 years, $40 million offer sheet.

Jeff Green SF: If he is medically cleared to play, Green likely will go back to the Celtics, but he’d also be a nice fit, provided he was healthy.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, unclear.

DJ Augustin PG: If Charlotte is convinced Kemba Walker can man the point for the team going forward, any kind of reasonable offer for Augustin likely won’t be matched. Even if Walker isn’t a point guard, he and Walker are too small to play together in the same backcourt, so if a team wants Augustin, it likely can have him. he’s quick and can pass, but isn’t a great defender and is a streaky shooter.

Projected cost: Restricted free agent, 4 years, $16 million offer sheet?

Omer Asik C: The best backup centre in the league, he will have a Marcin Gortat-esque impact if he is ever turned loose. Though he’s not the offensive player Gortat is, Asik is a demon of a rebounder, a great defender and shot-blocker. Probably not a fit because Jonas Valanciunas is the future in Toronto at the position, but multiple sources have confirmed Toronto loves him.

Projected cost: Restricted free agent, 4 years, $28 million?

Anthony Parker SG: Time to repatriate Parker to add some veteran leadership? Doesn’t have a ton left and likely stays in Cleveland, but would provide some shooting.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 2 years, $4.5 million

Jason Terry SG: A Casey favourite, likely will stay put, perhaps to spend quite a bit of time playing beside Deron Williams.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 4 years, $32 million.

Carlos Delfino SF: Another ex-Raptor. Struggles to stay healthy and the Bucks want to keep him but has become a much better player since leaving Toronto.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 4 years, $26 million

Ersan Ilyasova PF: One of the best per-minute rebounders in the NBA. A good scorer too. Not really a fit, but perhaps could be if the Raptors took the dramatic step of using the amnesty on Amir Johnson (which I don’t think would be a good call). Unclear if he can play big minutes.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 4 years, $28-$32 million

Courtney Lee SG: Fits the need for a shooter off of the bench. A premier outside shooter and a pretty good defender, Houston probably matches most offers.

Projected cost: Restricted free agent, 4 years, $16-20 million

Steve Novak PF: Came out of nowhere to emerge as an impact player with New York. Arguably best outside shooter in the league but doesn’t do anything else particularly well. Somebody will sign him to be a specialist, but doesn’t make a lot of sense in Toronto because of Andrea Bargnani.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 3 years, $12 million

Lou Williams PG/SG: Philadelphia’s leading scorer despite coming off of the bench is basically a better Leandro Barbosa. Lots of teams will come calling for the second coming of Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson.

Projected cost: Unrestricted free agent, 4 years, $28-$32 million

My math might be off a bit because the projections are based more on what players commanded under the previous CBA, but this at least gives you an idea of what they might command.