Monday, September 2, 2013

Rosterbation: Potential Trade Destinations for Kyle Lowry

"If I get traded, that means I can rock this outfit for a second time...score!"

I'm a huge fan of Kyle Lowry.

I love the way he plays the game; he's fearless, he's tenacious, and he's the blue-collar type of player that should hold dominion over the hearts of every Toronto sports fan.

On the court, Lowry gives you both style AND substance. I was going to plaster this page with advanced stats, but let me just present three; Lowry was a top-11 passer (by assist rate), top-5 in charges taken and the best rebounding point guard in the NBA (by total rebound rate). Not bad for 6.2 million dollars per year, right?

The troubles with Lowry lay off the court. His stubborn personality (read: dickish) has rubbed multiple coaches the wrong way (both with McHale and now Casey). He's also a bit injury-prone. Worst of all, his team-friendly deal is coming to an end after this season.

Nevertheless, Lowry will have a big say in the fortunes of the 2013-2014 Toronto Raptors. If he manages to stay healthy, and is able to hold down the starting point guard spot (read: prevent Augustin from seeing the floor), he will significantly help the Raptors.




Well, that is unless you're a supporter of the tanking movement. If you are, you probably want to see Lowry gone as quickly as possible.

Now, I've argued pretty steadfastly against tanking, especially for this year's Raps, but I am on-board with trading Lowry if GM Masai Ujiri is unable to lock him into an extension at the right price. All I want is for the Raptors to maximize their assets, and letting Lowry walk for nothing is a pretty bleak outcome.

So what the hell, because the off-season is stifling, let's do some rosterbating. Let's explore two trade options for Kyle Lowry.

TRADE 1: Three-way between Toronto, Golden State and Houston

The overall trade breaks down like so:

To Toronto:
Omer Asik (8.4 million per year/2 years)
Terrence Jones (3 years left on rookie deal)

To Golden State:
Kyle Lowry (6.2 million/1 year)
Aaron Gray (2.7 million/1 year)

To Houston:
David Lee (14 million/1 year, 15 million/2 years)
Quincy Acy (2 years left on rookie deal)

So why would each team do this deal? Let's also tackle that individually.

First, Toronto does the deal because it nets them an elite defender in Asik and a promising prospect in Terrence Jones (0.128 WS48 last season). Asik certainly has his warts (like, his entire offensive game is covered in warts), but he sets some fantastic screens, and is an excellent rim-defender. Terrence Jones, on the other hand, becomes the heir apparent at small forward, waiting in the wings (pun!) to pounce on the absence left behind by Rudy Gay (in the event of a Gay trade/departure).

Golden State jumps all over this deal. Casual NBA fans might be scratching their heads at why they'd want to jettison their second leading scorer and leading rebounder, but Golden State truly hit their stride in the playoffs when they replaced Lee and started Harrison Barnes at the power forward spot. There's also the issue of Lee's contract (44 million left for three years). That's pretty pricey for a poor defender coming off a serious injury. Also, there were reports of GSW wanting to trade Lee to Toronto for Bargnani. That tells you all you need to know right there.

In the short term, Lowry gives GSW a legitimate back-up point guard (no offense to Toney Douglas). With Lowry in the fold, GSW can run their beloved two-point guard set with Lowry and Curry in the backcourt. Lowry's stingy defense, superb ball-movement and exceptional rebounding makes him the perfect backcourt mate, and he represents an upgrade over (the now departed) Jarret Jack.

In the long term, Golden State gains some financial relief. Lowry's contract expires next off-season, along with Andrew Bogut's, netting them over 20 million in cap space. With Curry and Iguodala locked up, and with Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson on the roster, Golden State could become a legitimate player in the 2014 NBA free agency bonanza.

Gray's there to make the money work. Hey, the man works hard. Let him enjoy the sunshine.

Finally, Houston makes this deal because it clears up all of their problems. They resolve the redundancy (and floor-spacing nightmare) between Howard and Asik. Lee is a gifted offensive player who can pass, score from the post, and shoot from mid-range. His defensive shortcomings are masked by Dwight Howard, and the two should form one of the best big-man tandems in the NBA.

Trade 2: Toronto and Milwaukee

The overall trade breaks down like so:

To Toronto:
Brandon Knight (2 years left on rookie deal)
Ekpe Udoh (4.5 million/1 year)
Khris Middleton (2 years left on rookie deal)
2 second round draft picks

To Milwaukee:
Kyle Lowry (6.2 million/1 year)
Terrence Ross (3 years left on rookie deal)

Why does Milwaukee make this deal? Well, you tell me what's wrong with this starting lineup; Sanders-Ilyasova-Butler-Mayo-Knight. Yeah, it's pretty obvious; the Bucks have a huge hole at point guard. Ridnour and Brandon Knight just wont cut it for a team looking to contend for a playoff spot.

Lowry fits perfectly in Milwaukee. He'll facilitate the offense (which keeps OJ Mayo from ball-hogging), he'll play tough defense and he'll provide leadership on the floor (no offense, Caron, but your time has passed). Best of all, he's an expiring contract which is very appealing to a money-conscious franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks.

As a bonus, Milwaukee gets Terrence Ross. I'm not really sure what to make of Ross. He's very athletic and he has some handles, but his raw production on the court trouble me. Either way, he gives the Bucks some youth, while slotting in nicely into the back-up shooting guard/small forward role.

Toronto makes this deal if they're looking to tank. Udoh is an semi-decent defender, but he'll struggle to see minutes in Toronto's crowded front-court. He's included to make the money work. Brandon Knight was horrific in his first two seasons in the NBA (0.025 WS48), and was forever immortalized by DeAndre Jordan (#RIPbrandon). Actually, my thoughts about Knight are pretty much summed up by the following picture:


Luckily, time is on Knight's side, which is cool but I'm not exactly holding my breath and waiting for Knight to become the Raptor's KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR (okay I'll stop).

The real score from this deal is Khris Middleton and the two second rounders. Middleton played for the Pistons last season and averaged 6.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and an assist per game on 44% shooting last season, which isn't exactly eye-opening. However, he's a smart, heady player who has long arms, can finish with both hands around the rim, has a passable outside shot and plays within himself. He's basically Landry Fields on his best day, but at 10% of the cost. Take a look:


The second round picks are also appealing because this management staff have a great track record when it comes to the draft. More picks is a good thing.

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So what do you think? Are you a fan of either of these two deals? If so, leave your thoughts below. If you're not, leave your personal insults below. Either way, thanks for reading.

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All figures and contract information is courtesy of basketball-reference.com. They do some great work over there. You should check it out sometime.

8 comments:

  1. None of those trades look particularly appealing, but Terrence Jones would be exciting. Good work.

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    1. Getting Asik/Jones or Knight/Middleton/2nd rounders is pretty good value for a year of Lowry.

      I'm crossing my fingers that MU can lock him into another team friendly deal this season.

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  2. Horrible article.

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  3. what the fuck is rosterbating

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  4. I don't understand why Toronto would want to essentially stump JV's development by crowding the 5 spot with Asik. Defence is very underrated but being a one way player at either end is brutal. We laugh at Lee's lack of D but excuse OA's lack of O? That trade just clogs up the strong spots (C/SF) even more while depriving Toronto of a stating calibre PG. I'd rather they just keep Lowry.

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    1. I understand the concerns with clogging up the minutes at center for JV. I probably should have addressed this in the article, so I'll clarify the thinking behind that here.

      To me, unless you're acquiring a player who is extremely productive, or has the potential to be (like JV), you're a fluid piece. Call them role players if you'd like, but I find that to be a bit insulting.

      When these 'role players' have value, and the idea is just to acquire one, and to translate them into another need for the club. How many teams could use an excellent rim defender in the NBA? A dozen?

      Therefore, unless we are truly acquiring a non-role player, we should see them as a means, rather than the ends. Asik isn't really Asik; he could be a young wing, he could be some draft picks.

      And I only support these trades if Ujiri cannot resign Lowry at a reasonable price. Otherwise, I'd very much prefer Ujiri to keep him.

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  5. I don't mind the Houston/GSW trade. Acquiring Terrence Jones might help with the development of T.Ross. Heard they are BFFs. Hopefully they inspire each other to work harder.

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  6. Asik is already disgruntled because he's now backing up Howard, albeit on a contending team. How will he feel backing up a sophomore in Toronto? It's a recipe for bad mojo in the locker room.

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