Kyle Lowry isn’t even a week into his offseason and his free-agency rumor mill is already spitting out hot fire daily.
The latest: A scenario in which he signs with his hometown Philadelphia 76ers.
While appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Midday Show, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst indicated that Lowry-to-Philly is a distinct possibility. Here’s the transcription of his thoughts, courtesy of Liberty Ballers’ Kyle Neubeck:
I think it’s in play. I think the Sixers are interested, I would think it would take a max-level contract. I don’t know how Bryan Colangelo feels about paying a 31-year-old a max-level contract, and they’ve also declared that Ben Simmons is going to be their guy. That could be a marriage where you bring Ben along with Kyle, and then by the time Kyle is ready to transition to a more backup role, maybe Ben could be ready, or maybe they want to go with Ben right away. That’s things they haven’t made public yet and I understand why they haven’t.
The thing about Kyle Lowry is, we don’t know how important, what’s the No. 1 priority? He signed his contract at an inopportune time. He got a really nice contract, he got $12 million a year, that was really good money at the time. But a lot of things happened, and top-level point guards, All-Star level point guards are now earning more than $20 million a year. So while he’s never going to cry poor—he’s done very well—he has never gotten the mega contract that many of his peers got.
This likely has more to do with the Sixers’ cap situation than anything else. They can offer him his full max, which is projected to start at $35.4 million in Year 1, and still have money leftover to add another impact player. And in the most fundamental sense, he’s a good fit. The Sixers’ best point guard on the roster is T.J. McConnell, and Lowry will have no problem playing off Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons after spending so much time beside the ball-dominant DeMar DeRozan.
But the Sixers don’t really have business offering a four-year max or near-max contract to a 31-year-old. They’re still rebuilding, and the plan is to play Simmons at the point anyway. With so many other bodies in the frontcourt, taking those minutes at the 1 away from Simmons complicates the rotation.
For Lowry’s part, this is leverage. As Windhorst said, we don’t know what his real priorities are. But if he wants to avoid LeBron James, the Sixers don’t help him do that. They are more so a negotiating pawn . He can take their max offer to the Toronto Raptors as a way of getting them to match, or in the hopes they offer him a fifth year.
Whatever the intentions of either party, don’t expect Lowry to be suiting up in Philly next season. Free agency is always full of surprises, but this one would be a genuinely nonsensical shock.