So much for Kyle Lowry’s return to the Toronto Raptors being a formality.
The 31-year-old confirmed on Monday, a mere 24 hours after his team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, that he would be opting out of his contract this summer:
We knew this was coming, so it’s not news. But the fact that Lowry might have wondering eyes is. It was initially revealed that he might bolt for the Western Conference to avoid LeBron James, and now, apparently, there’s a chance he has a soft spot for the Denver Nuggets specifically, per David Ortiz Jr. of DYST Now:
Sources: Strong possibility that Kyle Lowry has played his last game as a Raptor. If heading West, Nuggets could be top option.
— Mike Ortiz Jr. (@xOrtiz4x) May 7, 2017
Ortiz doesn’t expand on why Lowry is thinking this way. But if there’s a non-contender that’s in a place to throw gobs of money at an over-30 All-Star, it’s the Nuggets. They can afford Lowry’s max by renouncing the rights to Danilo Gallinari (player option) and have a need for a floor general who can play off Nikola Jokic.
Emmanuel Mudiay complicates things, but he’s not the ideal off-ball weapon. The Nuggets can use him as trade bait over the offseason, perhaps as part of a trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
And that, in the end, might be what draws Lowry to Denver, if he’s pulled to it at all. The Nuggets still have to go through the Golden State Warriors and didn’t make the playoffs this year, but they’re perfectly positioned to acquire another star via trade without totally obliterating the burgeoning supporting cast. If Lowry is worried about competing both now and as he ebbs toward his twilight, Denver actually makes some sense.