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Raptors keep Kyle Lowry through trade deadline, take complications to offseason

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 24: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors shakes hands with coaching staff as he exits the court during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Amalie Arena on March 24, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

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Kyle Lowry had what felt like a farewell press conference last night.

But he didn’t go anywhere.

The Raptors kept Lowry through the trade deadline, setting up a stirring summer. Lowry will be an unrestricted free agent – a 35-year-old declining-but-still-good small guard who wants a big contract. It’ll be a tricky situation for everyone involved.

Toronto could re-sign Lowry and continue to try winning as much as possible with the greatest player in franchise history. The Raptors could sign-and-trade him, still getting return for the productive guard. Or Toronto could watch him leave outright.

The key difference between then and now: Lowry will control the situation.

Before today’s trade deadline, the Raptors could have dealt Lowry to gain assets as they build around Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby. Toronto fans dreamed of Tyler Herro, Talen Horton-Tucker and a haul of first-round picks.

But no suitors met the Raptors’ asking price.

The 76ers settled for George Hill. The Heat settled for Victor Oladipo. The Lakers settled for… waiting for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to get healthy.

So, Toronto will settle for trying to make the 2021 playoffs with Lowry. Given everything he has meant to the organization, that’s a welcome outcome. Lowry competing is satisfying. Period. The Raptors’ 2019 championship gives them cover to pursue more modest goals during their sustained victory lap.

Earlier in the day, it seemed Toronto was clearly the roster spots necessary to make a Lowry trade. The Raptors sent Terence Davis to the Kings and Matt Thomas to Jazz.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Davis impressed as an undrafted rookie last season. But he arrived to a game in the bubble with a hole in his mask and faced charges (most of which were dropped) over a domestic-violence allegation. Hopefully, he gets his act together. If he does, he’d provide value to Sacramento.

Thomas is a shooter Utah could use.

The Raptors are now thinner around Lowry, but those picks could eventually be handy. That’s apparently an acceptable tradeoff at these crossroads.