How Raptors could try to complete sign-and-trade with Pelicans for Lowry

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) tries to get around New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, in New Orleans. (Butch Dill/AP)

On Monday, longtime NBA insider Marc Stein reported that among “several” teams that will be interested in the services in unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Kyle Lowry, the New Orleans Pelicans could be looking to enter the sweepstakes for the six-time all-star guard.

That there’s interest in Lowry shouldn’t be surprising. Despite being 35 years old, Lowry remains very productive as he averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 39.6 per cent from three-point range on more than seven attempts per contest across 46 games played with the Toronto Raptors last season.

Lowry only played that many games because of a combination of injury and, during the second half of the season, Toronto appeared to be purposefully sitting Lowry for the sake of bettering its lottery chances.

As Stein said, the Pelicans are “desperate” to help Zion Williamson and some of the team’s other young stars reach the playoffs, and, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported last week, with it being “unlikely” that the Pelicans match an offer sheet over the qualifying offer for starting point guard Lonzo Ball, bringing in Lowry makes a ton of sense as he instantly would become the veteran leader in the locker room New Orleans has needed for a little while now, and he’s a top-flight point guard who would be an upgrade over Ball, both as far as shooting ability and playmaking goes.

So the rationale for wanting Lowry is sound from a Pelicans’ standpoint, but just because the Pelicans want him doesn’t mean they can get him. Lowry is sure to be in-demand, and, from a Raptors’ perspective, it’s not like Lowry wouldn’t still be valuable on this current team moving forward, either.

But let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that the Raptors and Lowry can’t come to an agreement and he is looking to move on to another team, Toronto would still probably like to get some value back in return and could do so via a sign-and-trade with another team.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ interest in Lowry is well documented, and could, perhaps, provide an attractive offer to the Raptors for Lowry in a sign-and-trade situation for Lowry in the form of Ben Simmons, but if you’re the Pelicans and you’re serious about acquiring Lowry and have to do so through a trade, do they have any pieces that might appeal to Toronto?

Obviously, Williamson and Brandon Ingram would be off the table, but a player like Steven Adams would instantly help correct the Raptors’ issue at centre and the club’s rebounding problems. As well, youngsters Jaxson Hayes and Canadian Nickeil Alexander-Walker look attractive as well, particularly because Hayes a talented-looking young big who could, again, help with that area of need for the Raptors. Alexander-Walker, as evidenced by what he did at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with Team Canada in Victoria a few weeks back, has all the makings of becoming a dynamic, clutch-scoring combo guard that any team would like to have.

As far as an actual transaction, however, it may prove a little tricky to make work as we’re not sure what number Lowry would come in at, but odds are it won’t come in below $20 million per season as he’s just coming off a deal that saw him get paid in excess of $30 million per season, and he’s remained productive all the way through.

Packaging Adams, and the approximately $17 million he’ll make next season, and a cheaper contract – such as a Hayes or Alexander-Walker – might be able to get a deal done, but that, of course, might be too much that New Orleans is giving up in the end.

With that said, if the Pelicans really are “desperate” then maybe a more drastic measure is in the cards.

NBA free agency will begin on Aug. 2 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Because of Lowry’s status and his status as one of the top free agents on the market expect to see more buzz around him over the next few weeks or so.

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