After spending the past nine years with the Toronto Raptors and becoming arguably the greatest player in that franchise’s history — including leading them to their only championship in 2019 — point guard Kyle Lowry is joining the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade deal.
Lowry announced his intention to sign with Miami on social media, while sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the sign-and-trade deal with Miami would be a three-year contract worth approximately $90 million.
The Heat also agreed to bring back restricted free agent Duncan Robinson on a 5-year, $90 million deal, his agent, Jason Glushon, told Wojnarowski on Monday. The deal, the largest ever for an undrafted player, includes an early termination option in the fourth year.
In joining the Heat, Lowry will partner with close friend Jimmy Butler and budding All-Star center Bam Adebayo, as Miami tries to retool after following up a breakthrough appearance in the NBA Finals by being swept by the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs this spring.
Retaining Robinson was also a key for the Heat as the sharpshooter was a critical element to Miami’s offensive system and the definition of a specialist, with 613 of his total 717 shot attempts coming from long range last season.
He set the Heat franchise record for most 3s in a season, and in his third season set the NBA record for the fastest player ever to reach 500 career 3-pointers.
Undrafted out of the University of Michigan in 2018, Robinson signed a summer league contract with the Heat, then agreed to a two-way deal for the following season. The 27-year-old averaged 13.1 points in 72 games last season, hitting 40.8 percent from 3 on 8.5 attempts per game.
Miami also took one free agent away from their Eastern Conference rival, signing former Bucks forward P.J. Tucker to a deal, a source confirmed to ESPN. Tucker has career averages of 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Athletic first reported the deal.
Free agent guard Max Strus is returning to the Heat as well. He is signing a two-year, $3.5 million deal, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN.
Lowry’s acquisition by the Heat marks an end of an era for both he and the Raptors, as the 6-foot guard from North Philadelphia completely changed the trajectory of his career after arriving in Toronto nine years ago. Before the Raptors acquired Lowry from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Gary Forbes and a future first round pick — a pick then-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey included in the seminal trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden several months later — he was a solid guard who was reaching his third team in six NBA seasons.
Now, nine years later, he’s a six-time All-Star, has made an All-NBA team, has solidified himself as one of the best point guards in the league and is considered by many to be the best player in franchise history.
It appeared Lowry’s departure from Toronto was going to happen several months ago, when his name was bandied about heavily prior to March’s NBA Trade Deadline. Ultimately though, Toronto chose to hang onto their franchise icon after getting offers from the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and the Heat that team president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri deemed were not good enough to part with Lowry.
“We’ll talk about it then,” Ujiri said in a news conference the night of the trade deadline. “I think we’ll talk about them when the time comes at the end of the season. But I think we all know the respect and the sentiment about Kyle and this ball club, and what he’s done not only for the city, the team, the country, the league.
“Honestly, our team can go in many different directions. I keep saying it. We are comfortable with whatever direction we go. Maybe we lost a chance here, but we also think we gained a chance in some other things going forward. This team, especially with what we’ve gone through this year, could pivot in many different directions. This is where we find ourselves now.”
Now, after Monday’s move, the Raptors find themselves with something in return for their longtime star walking away, after all.
That said, it still is the end of an era in Toronto. After forming a tight bond with backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan and making the Raptors into a consistent playoff team for the first time, things changed forever when DeRozan was shipped to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard in July 2018. The Raptors would go on to win the title the following year, with Lowry playing an instrumental role in delivering Toronto its first championship since the Blue Jays won the World Series in back-to-back years in 1992-93.
Lowry leaves the Raptors as the team’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, assists, steals and triple-doubles, and is second to his buddy DeRozan in several other categories — including games and minutes played and points scored. Lowry is comfortably inside the top five in virtually every other category.
With Lowry leaving the Raptors, the page has officially turned on the team’s glory years, as Toronto made the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2020 — two more than the five total playoff appearances the Raptors had made in the franchise’s first 18 years in existence. The reins will now be handed over to point guard Fred VanVleet, who received the largest contract ever for an undrafted free agent when he re-signed with the Raptors last offseason, and forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, in addition to forward Scottie Barnes, the No. 4 overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft.
ESPN’s Royce Young contributed to this report.
Source : ESPN