NBA

NBA: How Kyle Lowry’s Extension Sets up the Raptors for Free Agency in 2021

Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors’ 33-year-old five-time All-Star point guard, won’t hit free agency in 2020. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Raptors and Lowry sealed the deal on a $31 million, one-year contract extension. The extension will keep him in the NBA championships through the 2020-21 season.

Toronto was not happy with the idea of Lowry going into the lame-duck season. Not after they witnessed him lift the Raptors’ outstanding title back in June. This extension is sort of Lowry’s championship bonus and an appreciation for all the things he has done for the Raptors. It also means that he is still going to reach higher levels in the future.

Kyle Lowry’s 2018-19 stats

Kyle Lowry's huge contract extension might actually help the Toronto Raptors during NBA free agency in 2021.
Kyle Lowry helped lead the Raptors to an NBA title in 2019. | Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Last season, Lowry ranked no. 15 in Real Plus-Minus (RPM) in the NBA. RPM is the average impact of a player with regard to distinctive net points per 100 defensive and offensive possessions. He deserved the recognition of many, and now his popularity is growing tremendously. The $31 million extension is like a worthy prize for the player who has decided to use his face to represent the Raptors franchise.

After this season, Toronto will be heading for a transition period after the departure of Kawhi Leonard and the forthcoming free agency of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. With his extension, Kyle Lowry will still be there as the face of the franchise.

Kyle Lowry will be on the trade block

The Raptors think that his extension is a gift to Lowry for everything he did for the franchise, and it will still keep him with the team for another year. However, that doesn’t mean that he will be with Raptors all of this and next season.

If the Eastern Conference sees the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, or Milwaukee Bucks break away from the pack, then the Raptors might opt to trade veterans for prospects. Lowry might be among these veterans, and his extension might make him a target for other teams. 

Every team now knows that they can acquire Lowry for more than a rental and that they don’t have to negotiate another contract with him in the next summer. This $31 million extension acts as a security asset for a team that is willing to rent him.

The Bucks and the Sixers are two teams who might find adding Lowry for a postseason run an enticing move. Other teams like the Nuggets, Lakers, and several other contenders out West, can also use his extension to upgrade at point guard. The extension will not take Kyle Lowry off the trading table; it will make him more enticing.

2021 is the year for the Raptors to rebuild

The Raptors expect to fill their cap space with around $81 million in the summer of 2021. Lowry’s extension won’t affect them even whether or not they decide to trade him. Even though Pascal Siakam’s max extension might affect their current cap space, Toronto will still have enough room for one more max player.

This season, the Raptors will recover even more from the absence of Leonard, and they will fully reload in the 2021-22 season.

Kyle Lowry’s shows that the Raptors take care of their players

Just as Kobe Bryant signed the late-career extension with the Lakers, Lowry’s extension is also proof that the Raptors can take great care of their players. A year ago, the franchise decided to trade the long-term stalwart DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard

That was a gutsy move that paid off with an NBA title and made an impact on the history of the NBA. Toronto is going to reaffirm its reputation of treating players with much respect using Lowry’s extension. 

Lowry’s championship bonus will not only assist the Raptors in the short-term, but it will also help in recognition of other players long-term.