Archive for May 26th, 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.