Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer recently surveyed league executives about the possibility of the Toronto Raptors parting ways with their franchise cornerstone, Kyle Lowry. The 34-year-old point guard is in the final year of his contract, and the Raptors seem to have fallen out of title contention, holding a 10-13 record and sitting in 9th place in the Eastern Conference. Though there has been little reporting on it, Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri could decide it is time to cut his losses and send arguably the greatest Raptor in franchise history to a title contender in exchange for future assets.
Deep in Fischer’s article, he discusses the possibility of the Clippers as a potential suitor for Lowry, and includes a quote from an anonymous executive who gave their thoughts on why LA might be Ujiri’s preferred trade partner.
Fischer would go on to say that if a deal between the Clippers and Raptors were to take place, LA centers Ivica Zubac and Mfiondu Kabengele would have to be included in addition to Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in order to make the salaries match.
This package is enticing, but if the Raptors are actually looking to transition into a semi-rebuild around Pascal Siakam, the logic would follow that Ujiri would prefer a first-round draft pick, of which the Clippers have none to spare. But for the fun of hypotheticals, would this trade improve the Clippers’ title chances?
The Clippers’ depth would be depleted. Lowry can replace Beverley’s minutes, but LA would no longer have a bench scorer to supplement offense on the second unit if they traded Williams. They’d also be losing their backup center and their largest player (Zubac) in a conference that has Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis. It’s a lot to give up for an aging star.
Lowry would, however, supply the Clippers with exactly what every one of their critics has been begging them to acquire for nearly a year: a true, starting-caliber point guard that can run an offense and get the ball to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in optimal scoring situations. Let’s not forget, he and Leonard won a championship together just two years ago. He can play off the ball, run pick-and-roll and score in isolation if required.
On the other end of the ball, he’s still a bulldog defensively and can fit into a switching system, which is ideal given the Clippers’ personnel.
He’s everything LA could want in a point guard if he’s healthy and engaged. But at the cost of three rotation players, the trade might be a tough pill to swallow, at least in the regular season. But in the postseason, when starters’ minutes are extended, a lineup of Lowry-George-Leonard-Batum-Ibaka (or Morris, given the matchup) could be enough to swing the title in the Clippers’ direction.