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Report: Toronto looking to hang on to Kyle Lowry, make playoff run

Jan 11, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat Getty Images

Toronto has a legitimate shot at making the second round of the playoffs.

Yes, it’s because they are in the Leastern Conference, but there a .500 team (17-17) can lead the Atlantic Division and host a first-round playoff series. Frankly since the addition-by-subtraction Rudy Gay trade the Raptors (winners of six of their last eight) have been the third best team in the East (as Atlanta lost Al Horford).

With that in mind, the tanking is off north of the border. No more riggin’ for Wiggins.

Which means while just a few weeks ago Kyle Lowry seemed a sure bet to be shipped out before the trade deadline, now it’s unlikely. Marc Stein of ESPN has the details.

For the first time, there are certifiable rumbles emanating from Toronto suggesting that the Raptors might well keep point guard Kyle Lowry for the rest of the season. Word is new GM Masai Ujiri continues to resist locking into any sort of firm position — leaving open the possibility of a Lowry deal if the offers suddenly get sweeter — but team officials appear to be growing increasingly comfortable with the idea that it’s better to go for what would be just Toronto’s third playoff berth in 13 seasons rather than try to do the absolute uber-tanking it would take from here for the 17-17 Raps to get into Andrew Wiggins range now.

As PBT’s on D.J. Foster said before, putting a yellow light up on trades and taking a detour from tanking is the smart move for the Raptors — this is a team fans can get behind. DeMar DeRozan has the freedom now to make his plays and has become a fan favorite.

Toronto is really making this run with defense: In their last 10 games they have given up 95.8 points per 100 possessions, third best in the entire NBA (through their first 20 games this season they surrendered 102.7 points per 100). That’s why this is sustainable — hot shooting can come and go but if you defend every night you are in every game. Coach Dwane Casey got the Raptors to defend his first season as coach, but they regressed heavily last season. This season the defense is back and so are the Raptors.

This opportunity to win a division (they are still 3 games up on suddenly hot Brooklyn) and advance in the playoffs maybe fell into their laps, but it’s there for the taking. Toronto needs to grab it for a season, then get on with the rebuilding next summer.

  1. 00maltliquor - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Good for them. This teams cohesiveness is nice, I would like to see them capitalize on it. The rosters got “a face only a mother could love”, but they are putting in work, I must admit.

  2. bkoz1 - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    There have been rumors of Steve Nash going north to ease LA’s payroll. That would be a cool story if he could help the Raptors advance a round or two. I’m rooting for these guys.

    • casualcommenter - Jan 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Nash in his current state is no longer an asset to teams. His body just hasn’t been right since he left Phoenix’s highly regarded training staff, so I don’t see him helping the Raptors or any other team anymore.

      And I say that as a long-time Steve Nash fan.

  3. johngalt1783 - Jan 11, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    “but it’s there for the taking. Toronto needs to grab it for a season, then get on with the rebuilding next summer.”

    I doubt there will be any rebuilding in Toronto next summer. The ave age of their starters is just 24 and Casey and Ujiri have both said that their is plently of growth left in the starters both indidivually and as a unit.

    Sure there is no NBA media hyped big name player on the roster at this moment. However three of theirs starters were lottery picks. Two of those Valanciunas and Ross are only in their second season and this is Ross’ first as a starter. Lowry is probably playing at this time close to his max capability. Johnson is 26 and one of the better two way Bigs in the NBA. Currently 3rd in the league in FG% allowed at the rim. He normally doesn’t shoot much but over his career has proven to be a pretty efficient scorer in the post.

    All five a good FT shooters with Ross, Lowry and DeRozan at about 80% or better. Valanciunas and Johnson are both making their FTs at over 76%. The Raptors are 5th in the league in FT% and 7th in the FTM per game. As they gain more experience I expect those numbers especially FTM per game to meaningfully go up from where they are now.

    With an average age of 24 among their starters there is plenty of room for them to grow individually and as a unit. I see no reason to rebuild the Raptors this coming summer though I suspect Ujiri will make some meaningful tweaks to the bench.

  4. saint1997 - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Kurt strikes me as that guy that’s always trying to ‘start’ a catchphrase but it never catches on (Riggin for Wiggins, Tankapalooza, Leastern Conference). As for the Raps, I feel they are still a bit of roster movement away from being competitive, but perhaps the best way to improve is to be a good team to attract FAs and stockpile assets for a trade e.g. The Houston Plan

  5. mydoglouie - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    The integrity of the league is shameful when teams tanking is so openly discussed. David Stern is a terrible commissioner for allowing this. Nice legacy to leave.

  6. jbeagles23 - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    Tanking doesn’t work all the time there’s no guarantee in draft position or talent in te player

  7. savvybynature - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    They’ve played much better of late and are fun to watch, but Lowry is a FA after this season and if they don’t plan on resigning him then they should definitely entertain offers.
    The possibility of a playoff run should give them the patience and fortitude to wait on a good deal, but they should listen at least.

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