The Toronto Raptors want to keep point guard Kyle Lowry around for the long haul, but Lowry will have some intriguing options when he hits free agency after putting forth the best year of his NBA career last season. The Miami Heat have been mentioned as a potential suitor while the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers could also be options, according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY.
Lowry averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds last year, and he's slated for a big payday no matter where he lands. The Raptors are sure to make a strong offer to keep Lowry, but the point guard could cash in big-time elsewhere as a consolation prize to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Why this makes sense
It makes perfect sense for Lowry to explore his options in free agency, especially after a career year. While the Raptors had a surprisingly good season and there's familiarity in Toronto, his other potential suitors have nice things to offer.
The Heat could offer a relatively easy path to the NBA Finals if the Big Three re-signed at discounts and the requisite cap space was created to sign Lowry.
The Rockets, if they strike out on the big guns, will have plenty of cap space available and will be looking to use it. Houston could use an upgrade at point guard, and Lowry has already been a Rocket once.
The Lakers are probably the biggest long shot because they aren't all that close to winning anything, but they could have the potential of offering a lot of money, and there's some allure to playing in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant.
Why this doesn't make sense
Lowry landing in Miami is a nice thought, but it would take some serious concessions from the Big Three to even open up enough cap space to make a respectable offer. Even then, Lowry may not want to take a discount himself when he has the potential to sign what could be the biggest contract of his career.
The Rockets do make plenty of sense as a destination, but they really seem set on bringing another major star to Houston. So perhaps they won't put enough effort into getting Lowry or they'll be late to the party because of other pursuits.
As for the Lakers, it just doesn't seem worth it to leave an improving Raptors team to head to Los Angeles. At least not basketball-wise.
Considering how much the Raptors want Lowry back, the most likely scenario has the point guard returning to Toronto. The Raptors also have the edge in terms of how many years they could offer Lowry, so that's a bonus. If we're going to handicap this, I'd say there's a 60 percent chance Lowry remains in Toronto, a 15 percent chance each for the Rockets and Heat, and a 10 percent chance he goes to Los Angeles.