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Is It Time For Raptors, Lowry To Say Goodbye?

As the trade deadline looms, the Raptors will be faced with the decision of whether or not to trade their best player in franchise history, Kyle Lowry.

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Saying goodbye to one of the greatest players in a franchise’s history is never easy. There are countless memories, from heartbreaking defeats to moments of triumph that resonate with an entire city. Often, they become reflective of an unforgettable era of basketball. 

Kyle Lowry has become Toronto’s adopted son and the face of the Raptors’ franchise. But it almost never happened. If Steve Nash had decided to play in Toronto instead of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012 or if James Dolan doesn’t veto a trade that would have brought Lowry to the New York Knicks in 2013, Lowry never becomes the most beloved player in Raptors history.

In hindsight, the partnership between the two was a hand-in-glove fit. Lowry is the embodiment of an underdog, frequently overlooked throughout his career similar to the franchise since their inception in 1995. In short, Lowry helped to re-legitimize the Raptors in the years after Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and others left town – and the Raptors helped to legitimize Lowry. 

But now they face a looming trade deadline decision on how to proceed with Kyle Lowry. The Toronto legend is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming offseason and, with the Raptors in the midst of a disappointing season, trading the point guard may be on the table. At age 34, Lowry still has a lot left in the tank and, if he’s available, would be the biggest trade target on the market right now. 

Needless to say, a Lowry trade has the potential to swing the title odds. Certainly, he’s great enough to be the missing piece for title hopefuls like the Miami HEAT and his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers. Such a deal would likely bring back some assortment of draft picks and young players, which could be a valuable return for the Raptors. However, there is an emotional attachment to Lowry and, to many in Toronto, he could mean too much to trade. 

The Raptor franchise and fanbase are used to saying goodbye to their best players. Carter and the Raptors had an ugly split before he was traded to the New Jersey Nets. Chris Bosh departed to join the Big Three in Miami. DeMar DeRozan, one of the most beloved Raptors ever, was traded for Kawhi Leonard, who also left after bringing the franchise their first-ever NBA championship. 

With Lowry, however, things are different. He would be leaving as the longest-tenured Raptor ever. Unlike the aforementioned departures, Lowry’s would appear to be an amicable one. He has already stated that no matter what happens he will retire a Raptor. 

As far as precedent goes, there aren’t many instances of a team trading away their best player in franchise history when they’re still playing at a high-level and won a championship with them. 

But the Detroit Pistons traded away the revered Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets in 2008, although Billups never came close to being their best player in history. The New Jersey Nets traded Jason Kidd to the Mavericks who was also in his aged 34 season, but he came up short of bringing a championship to the Nets. 

The Kyle Lowry situation is rather unique. Often times the best player in a franchise’s history departs when their play begins to drop-off due to age or injury like Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing. The best historical correlation to Lowry is probably the Grizzlies trading away Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but those two never won a championship with Memphis. 

Of course, Lowry has already cemented his place in Toronto history. The re-emergence of Lowry as a player and the Raptors as a franchise are directly correlated. Lowry is now a six-time All-Star, all with Toronto, and even reached an All-NBA team during the 2015- 16 season. The countless defeats to the Cleveland Cavaliers and early playoff exits only made the championship that much sweeter. 

Lowry was not the best player on their championship team, that was Leonard. However, Lowry was the team’s emotional leader and routinely showed up in big moments. His incredible championship-clinching Game 6 in the 2019 NBA Finals will forever be remembered in Toronto.

Regardless of what happens at the deadline, the franchise and fanbase can rest assured knowing that, unlike the previous departures of their stars, Lowry will not leave with unfinished business. Lowry has accomplished all he possibly could in his time there. 

If the Raptors decide to keep Lowry, his ultimate free agency will be interesting. The Raptors do have cap space and his bird rights, but how comfortable would they be giving big money or a long-term deal to a 35-year-old on a non-contending team? Whether in a month or three, some sort of breakup seems like a dependable likelihood.

Whether or not Lowry will be wearing a Raptors jersey after the trade deadline remains to be seen. Some will remember him for coming up with big plays time and time again; some will remember him for his ability to shift the momentum of a basketball game by drawing a charge at the absolute perfect moment.

Most will remember his face when he first lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy – but everyone will remember Kyle Lowry as the greatest Toronto Raptor ever. 

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder

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First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not have any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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Wizards, Lakers agree to Russell Westbrook and Three-Player Trade Deal

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The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in a three-player trade, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 pick in Thursday’s 2021 NBA Draft to the Wizards. According to ESPN, the Wizards are also giving up their 2024 and 2028 second-round picks as well. During last night’s draft, at pick No. 22, the Lakers sent Wildcats’ center Isaiah Jackson to the Pacers via the Wizards. At pick No. 15, the Wizards drafted Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert. In the second round, at pick No. 31, the Milwaukee Bucks traded NBA G League player Isaiah Todd to the Wizards via the Pacers.

On Thursday, Harrell decided to pursue his $9.7 million player option for next season. Yesterday, rumors surfaced across social media regarding a possible Lakers-Kings trade involving Harrell. Despite the outlandish predictions and mindless speculation from fans over these last couple of days, this trade move could work out great for both teams.

After all, Westbrook is a 9-time NBA All-Star and three-time assists leader. In his MVP season back in the 2016-17 season, over the course of 81 games, he averaged a career-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. On Twitter, Westbrook tweeted, “I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

In the 2020-21 NBA season, Caldwell-Pope averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 67 games started for the Lakers. The 28-year-old shooting guard will make $13 million next season. As for Kuzma, in 68 games played last season, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Kuzma is set to earn $13 million next season. For Harrell, in 69 games played last season, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. The six-foot-seven power forward/center is also a six-year player. Instead of having one or two notable super stars, the Wizards having several contributing players might work out better in their favor.

Last season, in 65 games played in his only season spent on the Wizards, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. The 32-year-old point guard finished the 2020-21 season with 38 triple-doubles, ranking first in the league and second highest in his own playing career. Westbrook also surpassed Oscar Robertson last season for the most all-time assists; Robertson accumulated 181 triple-doubles in 14 seasons. Now, the two-time NBA scoring champion has 184 career triple-doubles, the most all-time for any player. Furthermore, this is Westbrook’s fourth team in his NBA career.

He is the fifth former MVP in league history to play on four different teams over the course of four seasons or less, adding to the existent list of Bob McAdoo, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Derrick Rose. Moreover, on December 2, 2020, Westbrook was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 first-round draft pick. He is set to earn $44.2 million in the upcoming season. His player option for the 2022-23 season is $47 million. This trade deal will not be official until August 6th.

Per Bovada’s NBA Futures odds, the Lakers now have +300 odds of winning their eighteenth championship in the 2021-22 season. This is a move from 4/1 odds before the trade, leaping the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, and they now have the second best odds behind the Brooklyn Nets (+250). Westbrook also has the best odds of leading the league in assists next season, with first place odds showing EVEN. He is ahead of James Harden (+150), Trae Young (+450), and Luka Doncic (+600). With +6600 odds, he also ranks 19th in the NBA for next season’s MVP odds, trailing Lakers’ teammates such as James (+1200) and Davis (+2800).

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Russell Westbrook joins L.A. Lakers in One of the biggest trades in NBA History

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(Image courtesy of AP)

In one of the biggest NBA Draft trades ever, Los Angeles Lakers acquired the services of Washington Wizards’ former MVP, Russell Westbrook, last night!

As a result of the trade, the Lakers can now boast a holy trinity of attacking talent in Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and, of course, Lebron James, unlike anything seen in recent memory. Assuming this new contingent clicks into gear, it might just be the most frighteningly talented trio to play together in NBA history, rivaling the Bulls triple horn of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman, or that great Lakers team of the late 80s with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In exchange for their star man, the Wizards received three players and what was the No 22 overall pick in last night’s NBA Draft. The former Lakers tasked with replacing Westbrook in Washington will be Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell.

Washington then spent the Lakers No.22 pick on Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, but immediately traded him on to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that saw the Wizards acquire pick No.31 and point guard Aaron Holiday. Wizards then used pick No.33 to draft Isaiah Todd to bolster their ranks at power forward.

 

(Image courtesy of AP)

The effervescent Westbrook had another great year in 2020-21, averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds per game in his first season with the Wizards.

In joining the Lakers star cast, which already boasts the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook, a 9x NBA All-Star & 2016-17 MVP, will now be hoping to end his NBA championship drought.

Westbrook has since taken to social media to thank the WashingtonWizards franchise for a great year spent in the capital, tweeting:

“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” he wrote. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.”

“I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

With a legendary point guard now fixed among the ranks, 2020 NBA Championship winners the Lakers have all the talent required to wrestle back the title from the freshly-crowned Milwaukee Bucks.

So, get yourselves ready for an influx of NBA betting lines on Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Middleton vs. LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook for next year’s championship games!

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