Raptors star guard Kyle Lowry is transferring to the Miami Heat.
Lowry posted on social media to his more than 907,000 Twitter followers stating “Miami Heat X Kyle Lowry” and “Let’s Goo!!” followed by five fire emojis.
The post appeared less than 45 minutes after free agency officially began on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Deals will not be noted as official until noon Friday, with the Raptors claiming they have nothing to say until then.
According to a source, The Associated Press announced Lowry had agreed to a three-year deal valued at an estimated US$90 million in a sign-and-trade with Toronto that will propel the experienced point guard Goran Dragic and power forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors. There was no immediate information as to whether those players will stick in Toronto or go elsewhere in another thread to the deal.
A 15-year NBA player, the 35-year-old Lowry has spent nine seasons as a Raptor
Miami, Dallas, New Orleans, the New York Knicks, and Philadelphia had been considered as probable suitors come free agency. The discussion over Lowry’s future began prior to the trade deadline; however, he remained a Raptor, completing a difficult 27-45 season played in Tampa because of pandemic-related travel limitations.
Lowry was noted as a key player in the free-agent guard sweepstakes, one of the first dominoes to drop and set the platform for future signings.
Multiple outlets reported that guard/forward Gary Trent Jr. would remain with the Raptors after agreeing to a three-year $54-million deal with the third-year a player option. The 22-year-old restricted free agent arrived in Toronto at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Norm Powell to Portland.
With Lowry’s contract ending, it was a long goodbye for the star guard. In February, there were reports that Lowry, who was in Tampa with the rest of the Raptors due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, had placed his Toronto home on the market.
Then the March 25 trade deadline passed.
As free agency advanced nearer, the Heat seemed to be making moves to help get Lowry in a sign-and-trade. They picked up the option on Dragic’s $19.4-million contract for the 2021-2022 season, which would assist in making the numbers work in a deal.
Additionally, Lowry is said to be close to Heat star Jimmy Butler, who was nearing a contract extension with Miami.
“To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this,” Lowry stated in his end-of-season media appearance in May, when questioned about what will shape his decision on what is next. “And also money talks and years talk and all that stuff. Let’s be real.”
“I play this game for the love for the game. But at the end of the day, I want to make sure my family is still taken care of for generations and for time to come. Even though they are now, I want to continue to be able to do that for my family.”
However, the six-time all-star made it certain he is not ready to walk away from the game.
“Until that time comes, I still have a lot more to give, I have a ton of basketball left in me,” he noted.
He also made it certain that he wanted to play for a contender.
“I want championships, that has always been the goal. Money comes with that and you get paid, but championships are a big key into why I play this game.”
The Raptors are hoping Fred VanVleet takes over as the floor general.
Toronto drafted guard Malachi Flynn in the first round (29th overall) of the 2020 draft and last week took Canadian Dalano Banton (Nebraska, 46th) and fellow guard David Johnson (Louisville, 47th).
Lowry became the ambassador of the Toronto franchise; a gritty combative guard who assisted in leading the team to the promised land in 2019 when it dispatched the Golden State Warriors in six games. He has made a career out of proving individuals wrong.
“I enjoy the challenge of people counting me out, counting the team out,” he stated in May.
Scotiabank Arena became Lowry’s house and his two young sons were regularly spotted in the Raptors dressing room, playing video games or just relaxing with dad.
Lowry was the Raptors’ conductor on the court.
He averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists a game last season when he was limited to 46 games because of an injury. Toronto completed the playoffs in the 12th spot in the East.
Listed at six foot and 196 pounds, Lowry earns a living in a land of giants. Moreover, he is willing to put his body on the line, with a league-leading 166 charges taken over the last five seasons.
Lowry was obtained by Toronto in a July 2012 trade with Houston that sent Gary Forbes and a protected future first-round draft pick (the Rockets eventually moved to the pick to Oklahoma City which used it to select centre Steven Adams) the other way.
“We feel we’ve added a solid starting-calibre point guard to our team who will bring toughness, grit, and playmaking at a very important position,” then-Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo noted at the time. “At (26 years old), I would say Kyle represents what I would characterize as the future of the position.”
He was picked in the first round (24th overall) by Memphis in the 2006 NBA draft. After three years, he was traded to Houston in a three-team deal that also involved Orlando.
Lowry is Toronto’s franchise leader in triple-doubles (16), three-point goals (1,518), assists (4,277) and steals (873). In addition, with 10,540 points, he ranks second to his good friend DeMar DeRozan (13,296) in the Raptors record book.
With 601 games and 20,813 minutes played in Toronto colours, Lowry is second to DeRozan.
He added to his legacy by joining a select group with 5,000 career assists in January 2019. Lowry found Serge Ibaka on a pick-and-roll and the big man defeated Deandre Ayton to the hoop for a dunk in a 111-109 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Toronto coach Nick Nurse stated at the time, “He’s been in the league a long time and he’s had the ball in his hands and got it to a lot of people.”
“Since I came here five-and-a-half years ago, it was the first thing I noticed – how he’d find the right guys to get the ball to. He really commands the offence and knows where to get it.”
Lowry’s earnings were $30.5 million last season and according to HoopsHype, the Villanova University product has gotten over $190 million over his career.
Lowry is the most recent member of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team to leave the team. Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Norm Powell, Ibaka, and Kawhi Leonard are among those who have already left the team.
Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory paid tribute to Lowry, acknowledging him as “the greatest Raptor of all time.”
“He showed our city who we want to be. The fighter. The leader,” Tory noted in a statement. “The player who’s got your back and leads the charge. Who takes the charge. Who falls down and gets back up. Again and again.”