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NBA

Kyle Lowry leaves Toronto Raptors as greatest ever

Kyle Lowry is expected to join the Miami Heat next season. The free agent guard will sign a three-year contract worth $90 million in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors.

Lowry leaves behind an unprecedented legacy in Toronto, and for the first time ever, a Raptors star will make their departure from the team with no bad blood on either side. Raptor greats Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard, among others, left the team under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Kyle Lowry to leave the Toronto Raptors

This time around, things are a lot different. Lowry leaves the Raptors’ organization as the undisputed greatest player in franchise history, and fans are beyond grateful for what he has done for the organization, the city and Canada basketball at large. Business-wise, a new Raptors contract for Lowry did not make a lot of sense, and most Raptors fans have understood this for some time now. Lowry is an aging point guard with limited productive seasons left in him. Furthermore, he was looking for a three-year deal worth around $30 million per season; a very high price to pay.

“To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this. And also money talks and years talk, let’s be real… I still have a lot more to give. I have a ton of basketball left in me.” Lowry stated when asked about his upcoming free agency priorities, back in May.

Miami Heat are getting a superstar

The Raptors are not in win-now mode and paying an older player huge money for multiple seasons was not an ideal move to make with the team prioritizing bringing in and developing new talent. In signing with the Heat, Lowry joins his good friend Jimmy Butler on a loaded roster that will push for a championship next season, while also cashing in on a massive pay day. Miami was able to give Lowry something that makes sense for both parties at this point in their respective timelines; something the Raptors could not do. Both Lowry and the Raptors have stated that they have been very transparent through the entire process, so surely both sides understand and respect the decision to part ways. How could they not? The 35-year-old point guard handled himself with class and gave everything he had to the franchise for nearly a decade.

The Philadelphia native is at or near the top of just about every Toronto Raptors statistical leaderboard that exists. Lowry played 601 regular season games as a Raptor, second to only DeRozan who played 675. He also sits second to DeRozan in points, with 10 540. He has nearly twice as many three-pointers-made as any other Raptor with 1518 over his nine seasons with the team. He leads the franchise in assists (4277), steals (873) and triple-doubles (16; more than all other Raptors combined). Maybe his most impressive stat is that, at just six-feet tall, he sits third all-time in rebounding behind just Bosh and Jonas Valanciunas with 2954 rebounds. These are just his regular season numbers.

Kyle Lowry stats

Kyle Lowry sits at number one in points (2435), rebounds (406), assists (526), steals (120), games played (84), minutes played (3143), field goals made (480) and three-pointers (91) in Toronto Raptors postseason history. If those numbers alone are not enough to convince you that he is the greatest Raptor to ever do it, then I am not sure what will.

Lowry made six NBA All-Star teams as a member of the organization, and was selected to the 2016 All-NBA Third team. The Raptors made the playoffs in seven of the nine seasons he was there, and they won nine playoff series in that span. Most importantly, Lowry led the Raptors to the franchise’s first NBA Title in the 2018-19 season. He dropped 26 points and 10 assists in a championship-clinching game six victory over the Golden State Warriors; one of the great performances of his career.

It is going to be different seeing Kyle Lowry in a new uniform. Toronto Raptors basketball will never be the same without him. But both Lowry and the Raptors have to be more than satisfied with what they were able to accomplish together. He will forever be loved and cherished by the fan base and the city. His number seven jersey will undoubtedly hang in the rafters one day, and a statue outside Scotiabank Arena will probably go with it.