Kyle Lowry is the biggest name believed to be on the realistic trade market as we approach the March 25 deadline. There have been reports connecting Lowry to the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers, and surely other teams are kicking the tires. It makes sense at first glance. The Toronto Raptors are not title contenders, and Lowry could be the piece that puts a number of teams over the top while bringing a nice package back to Toronto.
There is one major hang-up: Lowry is making $30.5 million this season. Making the money work with an over-the-cap team is tricky. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Wednesday there's a "strong sense" around the league that the size of Lowry's contract "may ultimately result in him staying put."
That may be true, but let's be clear: If there is motivation to get a deal done by all three parties -- meaning the Raptors, the team trading for Lowry, and Lowry himself -- then there are deals to be made.
Take the Sixers, for instance. Amick outlined potential packages as having to include Danny Green, Mike Scott and Seth Curry, but that's not necessarily true. A deal for Green, Scott, Matisse Thybulle and Tony Bradley (or Dwight Howard) works. Would the Raptors deem Thybulle to be enough return, with the other three players just representing the money on expiring contracts, for Lowry? Would Masai Ujiri demand Curry as part of the deal? Or Tyrese Maxey instead of Thybulle, or perhaps both, or one and a future draft pick? It's a fair debate. But from a money standpoint, if the motivation is there, a deal is there to be made without including Curry.
As for the Clippers, Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson are on expiring deals and could be the foundation of the money, though more would have to be added. The Clippers, however, lack a young asset as attractive as Maxey, depending on what you think of Terance Mann. They would have to build the package around picks. Amick also reported on Wednesday that the Clips have changed their stance on trading Williams, who has played well of late. Perhaps that's true in most cases, but Lowry is such an upgrade from Williams it's hard to see the Clippers letting that hold up a potential deal. Either way, the money can work.
Miami can also easily make the money work. Either Meyers Leonard or Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala (team option for 2021-22) get it done. As for the young asset, no way are the Heat trading Tyler Herro for Lowry. Duncan Robinson, perhaps, could be an option, or rookie big man Precious Achiuwa.
To me, the Heat can make the best offer with Robinson and a pick. But Maxey is intriguing in his own right, and if Philadelphia is where Lowry prefers to go if he is indeed traded (as has been reported), and it's true that Toronto will err on the side of doing right by Lowry (which there is every reason to believe it will do for a guy who's had the kind of impact on that franchise that Lowry has), the Sixers still make plenty of sense.
Whether that means a deal will ultimately happen, that's another conversation. It appears the wind is blowing in the direction of Lowry staying in Toronto, which remains a good team and could become a buyer in its own right. But Lowry's salary doesn't have to hold up a deal. If all parties want to get something done, it can actually happen relatively easily.