Would Lowry-Morey reunion be worth the cost for Sixers?


For a few months, the Sixers’ pursuit of a deep playoff run took priority over the question of whether they'd pursue Kyle Lowry in the offseason.

With the NBA draft almost here, however, the team again reportedly is looking at adding Lowry. 

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Sunday that the Sixers, Lakers, Mavs, Pelicans and Heat are “expected to be top suitors” for Lowry, who is set to become a free agent.

The Raptors kept Lowry past this year’s trade deadline despite the Sixers and Miami having serious interest in a deal, per multiple reports. Now, Lowry’s free agency changes the complexion of a potential move. 

The logistics of landing Lowry and maintaining any degree of flexibility are tricky, though perhaps president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, executive vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie (regarded as a salary cap expert) and the Sixers’ front office might be able to find creative solutions. For the Sixers, the initial barrier is they’ve already committed approximately $100 million to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Lowry “would like a guaranteed three-year deal, averaging $30 million per season,” the Miami Herald reported. 

By acquiring Lowry in a sign-and-trade, the Sixers would be hard capped at the tax apron, which is projected at $142-$143 million, according to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn. Even if the Sixers and Raptors came to a mutually agreeable deal with matching salaries, the Sixers would possess minimal spending power. Re-signing Danny Green, for instance, would look a lot less viable. And, assuming Lowry got his reported wish of a three-year, $90 million contract, the Sixers would have another hefty salary on their books for the next two seasons. 

Lowry turned 35 years old at the deadline, so some decline over the course of that theoretical contract would be expected. He’s still a very good point guard, one who made six consecutive All-Star Games from the 2014-15 through 2019-20 seasons, but players don’t perform at their peak form forever. The Sixers recently regretted giving a player in his mid-30s an expensive contract when they signed Al Horford to a four-year deal with $97 million guaranteed, although Horford’s fit was a greater problem than his age. 

Lowry, a Cardinal Dougherty and Villanova product, could certainly help the Sixers, though. The pervasive uncertainty about Simmons’ future makes it impossible to project exactly who Lowry would be playing next to on the Sixers next season, but Embiid would absolutely be one of those players, health permitting. A high-volume three-point shooter who knows just about everything there is to know about conducting an NBA offense would be a welcome addition. Lowry’s toughness, leadership, savviness and playoff experience would all obviously be nice to have, too. 

Though many think of Morey as an analytically-focused executive, he understands Lowry’s intangible qualities well. 

"Kyle is going to be a guy the town really loves,” Morey told reporters in 2009 when his Rockets acquired a a 22-year-old Lowry. “He's a really tough competitor, uptempo player and a winner. He's someone we've had our eyes on for a few years. We feel like he's a player who can really fit well here and contribute. He's a very good defender, a good rebounder on both ends, can attack the hoop in the halfcourt or in transition and gets to the line. We feel like he's a young player who can help us now and who we can build around for the future."

Lowry is very much not a young player anymore, and the Sixers are quite clearly concerned with winning now — or at least during Embiid’s prime. We’ll see whether Morey and Lowry think a reunion is the way to go.

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