Kyle Lowry is, once again, a sought-after item.
The 76ers have expressed interest in acquiring the soon-to-be Toronto Raptors free-agent point guard. Yet, they’re not the only NBA team expected to try to land the former Cardinal Dougherty and Villanova standout via a sign-and-trade or as an unrestricted free agent.
The New York Knicks are interested in pursuing Lowry once free agency begins at 6 p.m. on Aug. 2, according to multiple sources. The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Miami Heat are also reportedly expected to be top suitors for the North Philly native.
The Sixers and Heat were unable to secure trades for him this past season.
At that time, the Raptors’ asking price was too steep. Lowry also wanted some indication that his potential destination would be willing to provide a two-year extension of at least $25 million per year, sources said. He made $30 million in the final year of his Raptors deal.
Apparently, his salary demands haven’t changed. A league source confirmed that Lowry’s free-agency asking price is $90 million over three seasons.
Lowry, 35, would be a prime sign-and-trade option for Sixers point guard Ben Simmons. Simmons will make $33 million next season and has $146.6 million remaining on his contract.
Not only is he a six-time All-Star, Lowry knows how to run a team. He’s a winner, a leader, and possesses a toughness that would benefit the Sixers.
Adding him to the mix with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris would put the Sixers in great position to advance to the NBA Finals.
“If there’s a sign-and-trade [with the Sixers] that can be done that can get him there, and he gets $25 to $30 million, he will consider it,” a source said.
That’s not just because playing for the Sixers would be a homecoming. That’s one factor, just not the main one. The main motivation would be keeping the salary he’s accustomed to. The second factor is signing with a team that is competitive.
The Knicks appear willing to offer him a two-year deal somewhere between $20 and $30 million per season, according to a source. However, the Knicks want to make sure Lowry isn’t just concerned with securing another lucrative contract.
New York will pursue Evan Fournier in free agency and are considering making a push for Spencer Dinwiddie, according to sources. Dinwiddie declined his player option for $12.3 million with Brooklyn Nets to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Boston Celtics acquired Fournier from the Orlando Magic in March. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent. The French guard, who helped his native country upset the U.S. in the Olympics earlier this week, is expected to ask for around $18 million per season, while Dinwiddie’s asking price is $25 million per, sources say.
So the Knicks, who could also re-sign Derrick Rose, have some options.
Like the Sixers, the Lakers could be an option for Lowry. But Los Angeles may not have enough assets to acquire him in a sign-and-trade without help from another team. It will be hard for the Lakers to get a third superstar to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis if Kyle Kuzma serves as their main trade piece, a source said.
The Pelicans created financial flexibility by sending Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and two future first-round picks, including the 10th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas and the 17th pick.
New Orleans should have enough money to pursue Lowry or match an offer sheet for restricted free agent Lonzo Ball. The Pelicans would have $25 million in salary-cap space if Ball leaves. New Orleans is reportedly working to re-sign Josh Hart, another restricted free agent. The Pelicans will have $36 million if they lose Ball and Hart.
According to The Action Network, Toronto rejected the Sixers’ steep asking price of Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and the fourth pick in Thursday’s draft for a package that includes Simmons.
It would, however, benefit the Raptors to do a sign-and-trade with Lowry, as opposed to losing him and not getting anything in return.
A source said Lowry would be willing to help Toronto pull that off as long as it helps him. Lowry may not be able to get where he wants to be without the Raptors doing a sign-and-trade and taking something back in return. That’s going to be the critical piece of his free agency.