The Toronto Raptors are the Eastern Conference’s hottest team, but their general manager appears in no rush to make a decision regarding the uncertain future of his starting point guard.
After rolling to a 116-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, the Raptors are now 19-17 (third in the Eastern Conference), and 13-5 since trading Rudy Gay on Dec. 8. There are numerous reasons for the team’s turnaround since the trade, two of the biggest being improved team defence and the play of point guard Kyle Lowry.
On Tuesday morning Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was asked during an appearance on Brady and Walker on Sportsnet 590 whether he would open to the idea of signing Lowry to an extension.
“When we look at these things and we look at the way you’re talking about now and doing something moving forward, you have to look at how long does it take you to develop a point guard in that position?” Ujiri said. “And what would the team go through to get a young point guard and develop him? Or how do you get this type of point guard? Or can you work on some of the things that Lowry doesn’t do well and help him grow? Because he is a starting point guard in the NBA and I think he is phenomenal player.”
Since Gay was moved to Sacramento last month, Lowry has put up all-star calibre numbers averaging 17.6 points, eight assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.
The question of whether or not the Raptors will keep Lowry has been a hot topic this season given the team’s early season struggles and the possibility that he may flee in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent. Lowry was reportedly almost dealt to the New York Knicks in early December before Knicks owner James Dolan vetoed the trade at the last minute.
But now it appears Ujiri is warming up to the idea of keeping Lowry through the season with the intention of re-signing him long-term.
“We looked at both sides and he knew that, his agent knew that and he has just been a huge professional,” Ujiri said. “Even back then, not just now, we haven’t waited until ‘oh Kyle is playing well’ we looked at the possibilities now because it’s what we do and I have to look at it that way.”
Ujiri also had praise for head coach Dwane Casey who is putting his stamp on the team. Casey, who has the reputation of being a defensive-minded coach, has guided the Raptors to the third best defensive rating in the league since the Gay trade.
“They play hard, they compete, they are showing good talent,” Ujiri said about his team. “They are not brash, they are not overconfident. They want to compete and they want to win and I think coach Casey has done an unbelievable job and so have the players.”
The Raptors have the day off on Tuesday before heading to Boston to take on the struggling Celtics Wednesday night.