Masai Ujiri: Raptors 'Didn't Know' If Kyle Lowry Would Be Traded at Deadline

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) moves the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors didn't end up moving star point guard Kyle Lowry ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, but dealing him was a possibility. 

"Honestly we didn't know which way it was going to go." Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri told reporters Thursday night. "... We came in today looking at both possible ways."

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Ujiri says in his mind, Toronto got close to dealing Lowry. Said there were "a couple of things" that seemed like they could get done but didn't come together.

Ujiri added that the team would further discuss Lowry's future with him following the season.

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

On a future with Lowry, Ujiri says "there are all possibilities. We have that respect for him as a player and a person ... you never know when you go through, I don't want to call it a rebuild, but you have to look years ahead."

Ujiri also told reporters he wanted to send Lowry to a team he wanted to play for and wasn't going to settle on the incoming compensation:

Blake Murphy @BlakeMurphyODC

Ujiri confirms that they were limited in market by wanting to do right by Lowry in terms of destination. "We owe him that respect."

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

Masai Ujiri: "As far as making our team better, we have to keep our options open." Says the team owes it to its players to be as good as possible the rest of this season.

While the Raptors didn't move on from Lowry despite repeated buzz that the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers weren't interested in acquiring him, they didn't stand pat on Thursday. 

In the team's biggest move of the day, it dealt breakout guard Norman Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.

"Rodney is more proven and Gary Trent is a 22-year-old with a ton of upside," Ujiri told reporters. "Shooter, defender...he fits the core of our team. That's what we're excited about."

Additionally, Toronto traded Terence Davis to the Sacramento Kings and Matt Thomas to the Utah Jazz for future second-round picks.

Lowry is arguably the greatest Raptor of all time, so keeping him for the rest of the year is a feel-good story for the fans. But his future is still very much up in the air, as he's set to hit free agency in the summer. 

The Raptors are clearly building around Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby and may not want to pay big bucks to keep Lowry, who turned 35 on Thursday. That doesn't mean they'll necessarily lose him for nothing this offseason, however, as he could still be a candidate for a sign-and-trade move. 

For now, the struggling Raptors (18-26) will try to fight their way back into the playoff hunt. It seems likely to be the point guard's last hurrah with the team, though it also seemed likely that Lowry would be traded by Thursday's deadline—and he was a trade candidate in years past—so his story in Toronto may yet have a few more chapters to be written.