NBA

Ujiri happy to keep Raptors favourite Lowry: We can go in many directions

By Sports Desk March 26, 2021

Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said he is happy with the team's position after they opted to keep in-demand star Kyle Lowry.

Lowry was tipped to leave the Raptors for either the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers or Los Angeles Lakers on the NBA's trade deadline but a move did not materialise.

Now, Lowry – a championship winner in Toronto and widely considered the greatest player in Raptors history – remains part of the franchise, who are outside of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference at 18-26.

Asked about the 35-year-old guard after the dust settled as Norman Powell was traded away, Ujiri told reporters: "Honestly, we didn't know which way it was going to go.

"Because we've really talked about looking at this team in every direction that it could go.

"We came to a point where we were comfortable with any direction that it went."

Six-time All-Star Lowry is on an expiring contract but will now see that deal out before heading for free agency, having been with the Raptors since a 2012 trade from the Houston Rockets.

Lowry has averaged 17.6 points, 7.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in that time and started all 24 playoff games in 2018-19, scoring 15.0 points, as Toronto won their first NBA title.

"We'll talk about it then," Ujiri said. "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."

As for Powell, he left for the Portland Trail Blazers in the middle of his most prolific season in the NBA.

Powell is shooting 43.9 per cent from three-point range, ranking 10th in the NBA and third among those with 200 or more attempts from beyond the arc.

Gary Trent Jr, moving in the opposite direction, is also enjoying a career year in his third campaign, making the most of increased opportunities amid C.J. McCollum's injury woes for the Blazers to score 15.0 points in 30.8 minutes.

"Gary Trent is I think a 23-year-old player with lots of upside, shooter, defender, fits our core team," Ujiri said. "That's what we're excited about."

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