I, like many in Toronto, counted their chickens before they had hatched. Steve Nash is not coming home, he isn’t coming back to Canada, he isn’t even coming to the same time zone as us. Nash agreed to a 3 year $27 million contract with Kobe and the Lakers on Wednesday.
Raise your hand if you saw that coming…
One person did however, and that was Bryan Colangelo.
Less than 24 hours after losing out on Steve Nash and watching the phone lines at FAN590 and message boards all over the internet light up with calls for his head, Colangelo orchestrated a quick and effective move to fill the point guard position.
Acquiring Kyle Lowry will not have the same impact on merchandise sales or in the PR department as a Nash acquisition would have. At least not yet.
While Steve Nash is looked upon in Canada as an icon and a saviour for the franchise, Lowry may be the better long-term option for the Raptors.
Nash is 38 years old and could at any time break down. While I think that is unlikely he still is a little too long in the tooth to be a long-term option at the point for a very young Raptors team.
By comparison, Lowry is 12 years younger than Nash. He possesses strong defensive skills and gets to the rim frequently. He is also a very good rebounder for his position.
The Lowry acquisition may, in the end, work out better for the Raptors than Steve Nash would have, at least on the court.
Last year Lowry was instrumental in Houston’s rise back to prominence. He averaged 14.3 points per game and helped his teammates get involved with 6.6 assists per game. Those numbers climbed to 15.1 and 7.2 when he was appointed the starter. He was an integral piece in their late season surge that almost ended with a playoff berth.
Toronto fans will like his game. He takes the ball to the rim regularly and doesn’t settle for jump shots. He isn’t a ball hog and gets his teammates involved in the flow of the offense and is all over the court on the defensive end. He’s a hard worker that will likely have fans at the ACC standing in appreciation. He is a strong free throw shooter (86%) and can hit with consistency from 3-pt range (38%).
In many ways, Lowry is a much better fit for this young Raptors squad than Nash would have been. Makes you wonder why he was even available, but his relationship with coach Kevin McHale was tumultuous.
Lowry won’t have that problem here. Dwane Casey loves to preach defense and he will now have a strong defender at the top of the circle leading his team on both ends of the floor. Casey will likely put his trust in Lowry in a way McHale never did.
The icing on the cake with regard to Lowry is that he scheduled to make $5.75 million this year and $6.21 the next. That is a fraction of what the Raptors would have had to pay to get Nash to sign on the dotted line. The Raptors now still have money and assets to go out and acquire another player.
Perhaps not landing Nash was a blessing in disguise.
For the many who were calling for Colangelo’s head after the Fields signing and the Nash debacle, things now appear to be a bit brighter.
Colangelo, like he has done many times as GM of this franchise, took a punch and quickly responded. Plan B may actually turn out to be better than Plan A.
Fans in Toronto need to learn to wait until all the dust has settled before they snap to judgement. Colangelo has been around a long time and is not one of the more respected GM’s in the league for nothing. The Lowry deal proves Colangelo is a valuable asset in charge of this franchise.
In the end, the success or failure of these off-season moves cannot be accurately judged until the Raptors get on the court in the fall. But Dwane Casey did a phenomenal job with lesser talent last year. Fans wanted to see what he could do with an improved roster. Adding Landry Fields and Kyle Lowry is certainly an upgrade.
Looking forward to seeing what Casey can do with his new talent and what moves Colangelo still has up his sleeve.