Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors have something the New York Knicks desperately want. And based on earlier discussions back in December, New York knows what it has to give up.
"It comes down to, can they talk themselves into getting rid of a first-rounder or [Tim] Hardaway Jr. for [Kyle] Lowry?" one league source told ESPN's Ian Begley.
Lowry will be a free agent this summer, and if the Raptors are able to land a first-round pick for him before he hits the market, you'd have to consider that a score.
However, with the Raptors currently occupying the No. 3 seed in the East, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports they haven't been as reluctant to move Lowry.
Still, the Raptors need to be thinking long term here and ultimately use Lowry's recent surge to entice a first-round pick out of someone. Toronto is playing well, but it's no threat to make any real playoff noise.
We've seen Toronto's general manager Masai Ujiri toy with Knicks owner James Dolan before, when he squeezed out every last asset from New York as Denver's GM during the Carmelo Anthony trade.
So far, we've heard the Knicks have also expressed interest in Atlanta's Jeff Teague, per Ian Begley, but given the length of his contract, that just doesn't seem like a likely match. Begley has suggested a three-team deal, which would have Atlanta sending a pick to Toronto to "satisfy the Raptors' demand for a pick," and the Knicks sending Iman Shumpert to the Hawks.
Either way, the Raptors have an expendable asset with value in Lowry, and if the Knicks miss out on Teague, it might cause them to panic and feel more willing to deal a first-rounder.