A done-deal trade scratched at the last minute in December 2013 could’ve made All-Star Kyle Lowry the point guard of the New York Knicks and filled a void they currently still have.
Lowry thought the deal, which would’ve sent him from the Toronto Raptors to Manhattan in exchange for Metta World Peace, Iman Shumpert and a future first-round pick, was sealed, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
But Knicks owner James Dolan halted the transaction at the 11th hour out of fear he was being had by Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri.
Ujiri was GM of the Denver Nuggets and the architect of the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York and depleted the Knicks of Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick.
The blocked deal for Lowry also came at a critical juncture for Ujiri and the Raptors, who had just shipped Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings two weeks prior. By adding Lowry in another trade, the Raptors would’ve been completely committed to a massive rebuild.
Lowry elaborated on that time in his career in a recent post in the Players Tribune:
In December of 2013, the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento. They handed the keys to me and DeMar DeRozan. That was trust. It was on us, something we had to take advantage of. We put pressure on ourselves. How great did we want to be?
How great did I want to be?
That season, I was locked in to being a leader and winning games. That’s all I cared about. And after the Rudy Gay trade, things kind of took off.
The Raptors made the playoffs last year and are currently second in the Eastern Conference standings heading into the All-Star Game, which they'll host.
On Saturday, Lowry discussed how happy he was to take part in the festivities in his own back yard, per NBA TV:
NBA TV @NBATV
#KyleLowry hosts for the @Raptors and #NBAAllStarTO! https://t.co/esbmMY1kUu2016-2-13 17:06:56
Given the timing of Saturday’s story, the Knicks ironically shared a picture of the could-have-been teammates Lowry and Anthony in the East locker room on Saturday:
NEW YORK KNICKS @nyknicks
.@carmeloanthony with @DeMar_DeRozan & @klow7 just moments before @NBAAllStar practice! #NBAAllStarTO https://t.co/ZT06VDeyrn2016-2-13 16:19:55
“At the end of the day, the decision was made for me to be here and it worked out equally, perfectly for both parties,” Lowry said, per Zillgitt.
That’s not quite the case, as Toronto and New York are headed in totally different directions.
The Knicks are 23-32, four spots out of the Eastern Conference playoffs and still in search of a reliable point guard. Jose Calderon is not the long-term answer.
The Knicks may not have been a perennial power even if the trade had gone through two years ago, but a lineup that would include Lowry alongside Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis is one Knicks fans would likely love much more than their current quintet.