Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry repeatedly insisted Wednesday night that he does not know what’s going to happen between now and Thursday’s 3 pm commerce deadline.
But that did not prevent an air of finality from hanging on the proceedings following a 135-111 victory on the Denver Nuggets, as the best player in Raptors franchise background talked to the media for what likely will be his final time at a Toronto uniform.
“It was kind of weird tonight not knowing what the next step would be, just with understanding that there are items which could be done,” Lowry said.
“I mean, who knows what’s going to happen? Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But it was definitely, for certain, different.”
Although the Raptors’ win snapped a nine-game losing streak, giving them their first win since Feb. 26, the focus after the game was almost exclusively on what’s going to happen Thursday, when the Raptors won’t play a match but will instead potentially trade away two stalwart members of this team’s massively successful run within the past couple of seasons in Lowry and shield Norman Powell.
Both players are on expiring contracts, as well as Toronto plummeting down the East standings and in the middle of a season being spent Tampa, Florida, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they enter Thursday as two of their best players to potentially change teams.
It was a big enough occasion that Canadian celebrity, and frequent courtside Raptors fan, Drake spoke to Lowry via FaceTime at the center of Lowry’s postgame media session, offering to translate his answers to the media — an offer Lowry diminished.
Lowry started his media session by saluting the five women on Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment — Meghan McPeak, Kia Nurse, Kate Beirness, Amy Audibert and Kayla Grey — that earlier became the first all-female NBA broadcast team. He talked fondly about his time in Toronto. He talked about how, after an up-and-down first few years of his career, he found a home with the Raptors, the group that forged him into a superstar and future Hall of Famer and whom he won a championship two seasons ago.
“I think if you go back, [then-Raptors general manager] Bryan Colangelo exchanged for me to become — unfortunately they missed out on Steve Nash — and he traded me to become the point guard,” Lowry said, referring to the transaction that brought him into Toronto from Houston in 2012. “The trade was made for me to be given the keys. And frankly, like, you know, I wished to make the most of it.
“I think it only it so clicked on the fact that like, you know, they believed in me, right, the organization believed in me from top to bottom… everybody, from top to base they believed in me and everything I could do as an individual participant and as a pioneer, so I think that actually might help, you know, sort of, you know, click what, put everything together.”
The same sentimentality about Lowry’s time in Toronto also translated into his teammates and coaches — most of whom came to Toronto later Lowry did.
“When I got here, I was new to the NBA and he sort of was not actually a beginning player, like officially starting.
And he’s broken most, or he is really high up there, on most of the Raptors records, he will go down as maybe the biggest Raptor ever, I think, so far.”
Lowry, however, wasn’t the only one who was potentially facing his last night as a Raptor. Powell, who’s played for only Toronto in his six NBA seasons, may also be on the move tomorrow.
He explained the strangest part of the weeks and days leading up to Thursday’s deadline was not hearing his name being bandied about in the media, but rather in the discussions he’s had with members of Toronto’s organization about what it will be like for him to play elsewhere.
“I have not been watching SportsCenter, to be honest,” Powell stated. “I really don’t find a good deal of stuff. I mean, it’s weird around me. I feel as though, with some folks in the organization I’m always being asked what can happen, this, that and the other. But I tell them the exact same thing each and every day. Some of the people in the business, our medical staff were psychological and things like that, and I’m telling them to relax and calm down.
“But it’s a company. You build relations with individuals. … It doesn’t really bother me some kind of way. Whatever occurs, I can’t talk on feelings which aren’t here right now. I will wait and see just like everybody else.”
Things are different, however, for Lowry, whose transformation from NBA vagabond into All-Star and champion has shown that the Raptors’ rise from a forgotten franchise into one that was a consistent winner for the past several seasons. That, regardless of the fact that he and his teammates haven’t played a game in Toronto in over a year, has devised a connection that adds additional meaning to whatever happens Thursday.
Lowry, who’s said in a previous networking session he will retire as a Raptor regardless of what happens at the trade deadline or that summer at no agency, will turn 36 on Thursday.
He said he hopes to play golf and will have his telephone on but will only wait to see what his agent, Mark Bartelstein, needs to say when he calls himas opposed to staring as his phone waiting to find out what’s going to occur.
Whatever it is that he winds up hearing,” Lowry said he’ll be in peace with anything jersey he is going to put on once Thursday’s deadline moves.
“Whatever will be will be, frankly,” he said. “That’s the truth. You can’t control everything, and in a number of situations you can, but each choice that’s happened that I have had a choice in doing has worked out for me very well, and everything will be OK.
“At the end of the day, everything will be fine no matter what occurs.”
And, when he is not at Toronto, Lowry will leave an indelible mark on a franchise he has made his own over the previous eight-plus seasons.
“I have whined about as much praise as I can on him, [and] I surely do not mind doing this,” Nurse said. “My one remark that I always create, that I think is the highest compliment I give himhe plays tougher than anybody I’ve ever seen.
“On the court training or coaching contrary to or viewing games or anything, he plays harder than anybody I have ever seen. I can not give him a higher compliment than that.”