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USATSI

It came down to the wire -- in fact, past the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline with Twitter on the edge of its collective seat -- but in the end, Kyle Lowry is staying with the Toronto Raptors, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

Heading into Thursday, this seemed like an almost impossible outcome with the Raptors sitting eight games under .500 and Lowry, at 35 years old, on an expiring contract. The logical play seemed to be getting a strong return for Lowry now rather than potentially lose him for nothing in the offseason. Now we'll wait to see what Toronto does this summer. It could work a sign-and-trade, or it could, believe it or not, re-sign Lowry again. 

Personally, I'm done trying to figure out what Masai Ujiri is going to do. Here I, like just about everyone else, figured the Raptors were finally ready to cash in at least this season and start truly looking ahead, and somehow they might've doubled down on getting back in the playoff race by trading Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers. At first, that seemed like a selloff, too, but when you look at the return of Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, it begs the question: Did the Raptors actually get better?

Trent is a stud. Portland is really going to miss him. He makes huge shots and battles like heck defensively. Hood is better than his paltry stats this season indicate: Under five points per game, under 30 percent from 3. You can't have enough wing depth in the playoffs, and again, Lowry remains. 

I still can't fully believe Ujiri didn't pull the trigger on a Lowry deal. Miami was reportedly offering a package around Duncan Robinson but wouldn't include Tyler Herro. Robinson is a very valuable player as one of the best shooters in the world and his tiny $3.2 million cap hold is extremely valuable as it pertains to offseason flexibility. The Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the big guns came for Lowry, who was the only player on the market that realistically would've altered the championship equation. 

Give the Raptors credit. We all gripe about teams not putting their best foot forward with the league making it too attractive to lose at the expense of future gain, but Toronto plays to win and it highly values Lowry, the most important player in franchise history. But this is a stunner. Lowry is staying. And the Raptors might be a handful in the playoffs ... if they can get there.