Sixers' Kyle Lowry trade pursuit adds interesting wrinkle

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The Kyle Lowry trade pursuit is nearing its apex, with the Sixers and Heat attempting to pry the veteran point guard away from the Raptors, while Toronto hasn't given up the hope of keeping their franchise icon in town.

But we're nearing a resolution, with the NBA trade deadline set for Thursday afternoon, and on Tuesday the situation gained even more clarity.

In a new episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN's Brian Windhorst explained what the Lowry trade discussions look like right now:

"I was talking to a GM this morning, and he basically described it as this: 'Kyle Lowry's free agency is happening right now.' The expectation is that Kyle Lowry is going to have a new contract by the end of this week. It's either going to be stay in Toronto - whether it's signed, or with an understanding that it's going to happen - it's going to be Miami, or it's going to be Philadelphia."

Very interesting! And very good to know. 

Lowry signed a one-year deal this past offseason, making him a free agent unless a contract is worked out during trade talks. If the Sixers are going to part ways with substantial assets - say, maybe Danny Green, a young player they like, and a draft pick or two - to bring Lowry to Philadelphia, they'd like to know he won't be here for just a few months before leaving in the offseason.

Despite his age (Lowry turns 35 on the day of the deadline) Lowry is still playing at a high level, and on the Sixers he can thrive in a third- or fourth-option role, depending on the lineup. He both gets his own offense and creates, he's an efficient shooter - 39.1% from deep and 88.4% from the free throw line this year - and he's averaging 10.2 assists per 100 possessions, 18th-most in the league.

I'm all in on keeping Lowry for more than just this year's playoff run. He's a Philly guy, so he can finish his career in his hometown chasing titles every season as part of a core that would keep the Sixers at or near the top of the East annually.

Now, do the Sixers have that kind of cap room? Lowry can't expect to keep making $30.5 million each year as a fourth option, particularly in the back half of his 30s. Right now the Sixers have $117.5 million committed to eight players for the 2021-22 season, leaving them $15.1 million away from this season's luxury tax threshold. That mark could go up next year, but fitting Lowry under that while also adding enough role players at the margins won't be an easy task for President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey. 

We'll see what magic Morey can work, but we also might see just how willing Sixers ownership is to dip into their wallets and go over the luxury tax in order to compete for a championship these next few years, with Joel Embiid playing MVP-level basketball and the core gelling around their superstar.

The Heat, for what it's worth, have $114.7 million tied up in nine players for next season, so they don't have some gigantic financial advantage in terms of what they can afford immediately - though Miami will have substantially more space in 2022-23 than Philadelphia. Beware a backloaded deal. 

Ultimately, it might come down to Lowry making his own decision. He's been a singular face in that franchise for nine years and won brought a title to town. The Raptors will likely do right by him.

Here's hoping Lowry wants to come home.

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