It would have been totally understandable if Kyle Lowry had gone to the Toronto Raptors front office in the hours leading up to the March 25th trade deadline and asked to be traded.
The Raptors were 18-26 at the time, having lost nine of their last 10 games, and by that point it was clear Toronto was going to have a difficult time making a deep playoff run if they'd even make it. When Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster decided to trade Norman Powell in the hours leading up to the deadline it seemed as though Toronto was willing to take a step back this season, accumulate assets, and regroup for next season. It was clear the playoffs weren't the team's top priority and considering Lowry's age — he turned 35 that day — it would have made sense if the organization decided to part ways and send him to one of the three or four playoff teams interested in acquiring a true playoff difference-maker.
These days the NBA is full of players constantly looking to get out of their current situation and move on to a better one. James Harden spurned the Houston Rockets the moment it appeared they were not serious playoff contenders in order to facilitate a trade to a true NBA juggernaut. All too often these are public shows that frustrate NBA fanbases, but Lowry wouldn't have had to do any of that. He could have politely called up Ujiri, thanked him and the organization for everything, and asked to be traded for whatever the organization felt was the best offer available.
Who would have been upset?
But that's not how Lowry operates. Back in January he made a promise to Fred VanVleet that he would finish the season with Toronto because he wanted to help the team make another push at a championship, Lowry said. To him, asking to be traded would have meant going back on his word.
"I'm not that guy," Lowry said Tuesday during his season-ending media availability. "I said something in January that I truly believe and I stuck with it."
He made a decision that he was just going to leave it up to the front office. If Ujiri and Webster felt it was in the organization's best interest to trade Lowry, he'd be on the next flight out of town. But if the offers weren't good enough, he'd show up for work the next day and keep on fighting.
"Those guys had the final decision and they made the call not to," he said. "I roll with what they've done the last eight years. I mean, I haven't been happy about all the things they've done, but I roll with it and figured it out."
After the deadline Lowry played nine of Toronto's final 27. It was a decision he, his agent, and the organization made in unison. Lowry said he was battling some back tightness at the time and it made sense to let him get fully healthy while the organization got some time to evaluate some of its younger players.
"I wasn't mad at the decision," he said.
Now, instead of helping to lead the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, or Miami Heat deep into the playoffs, Lowry will be sitting at home watching the postseason for the first time in almost a decade. Had he asked to be moved things could have been different. There's little doubt that the Raptors would have listened to his request and moved him for whatever the best offer was, even if it wasn't quite to their liking. But Lowry gave his word to VanVleet and that meant rolling with whatever the organization decided to do.