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Report: Kyle Lowry preferred Heat if traded

Raptors star Kyle Lowry and Heat star Jimmy Butler

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 16: Kyle Lowry #2 and Jimmy Butler #24 of Team Giannis celebrate in the third quarter against Team LeBron during the 69th NBA All-Star Game at the United Center on February 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. 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 Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Kyle Lowry – an impending unrestricted free agent whom the Raptors wanted to do right by – got a head start on his next contract before the trade deadline.

Toronto ultimately kept Lowry for the rest of the season rather than send him to the Heat, 76ers or Lakers.

But this seems telling…

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

League sources said if Lowry had been traded, his preference was the Heat because of his close friendship with Jimmy Butler.

Why this matters: Lowry will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Miami projects to be able to easily open about $20 million in cap space.

That counts cap holds for Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn – but not newly acquired Victor Oladipo. Maybe Oladipo will play enough that the Heat re-sign him to a deal that nukes their cap room. But Miami could also exercise Goran Dragic’s and Andre Iguodala’s large team options and use them in a sign-and-trade.

The Heat obviously wanted Lowry down the stretch this season. The 35-year-old has only so much quality basketball left to play.

But if Lowry – after he had an opportunity to assess how much Miami would pay him on his next contract – preferred the Heat, this potential partnership is worth watching into the offseason.

Of course, Lowry could sign anywhere – including Toronto. The Raptors were clearly comfortable keeping him into free agency rather than trading him for the best offer last week. That seems somewhat telling, too (though Toronto competing the rest of this season with Lowry holds value, even if he leaves in the summer).

And it’s worth remembering a previous report said Lowry preferred Philadelphia. His agent denied that.

So, don’t pencil Lowry onto Miami’s 2021-22 roster just yet. But it’s easy to connect dots and see how it could happen.