Kyle Lowry is the biggest name available before the NBA trade deadline and the Philadelphia 76ers are looking to make a big move after striking out on James Harden. For so many reasons, the 76ers are the perfect landing spot for a Lowry and a blockbuster deal only seems fitting.
More than a month before the trade deadline on March 25, NBA rumors emerged linking Lowry to Philadelphia. With the Toronto Raptors amid a disappointing season and the 34-year-old guard playing in a contract year, trading the six-time All-Star only made sense.
With the clock winding, down, Toronto doesn’t find itself in a better situation. Entering action on Friday, the Raptors lost three consecutive games and were sitting behind the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks in the NBA standings. It’s the last place the 2019 NBA champions expected to be in, fueling more trade rumors around Lowry.
While the 34-year-old point guard hasn’t demanded a trade and loves Toronto, a move before the NBA trade deadline might be in everyone’s best interest. So, let’s examine how the Philadelphia 76ers could acquire Kyle Lowry.
Why the Philadelphia 76ers are a perfect fit for a Kyle Lowry trade
It’s rare for a perfect player-team fit to exist. There are plenty of instances when a star would love to play for a specific team and is viewed as the missing piece that would put it over the top. But oftentimes, that club’s general manager isn’t prone to making big moves or doesn’t have the assets to pull off a blockbuster.
That’s not the case here. Daryl Morey is one of the most aggressive executives in the NBA, embracing the win-now mentality. With the 76ers sitting atop the Eastern Conference, battling the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 1 seed, this is the 76ers’ best opportunity to make a run at the NBA Finals.
Lowry might not say it publicly, but he would love to return home. He grew up in Philadelphia, starring at Cardinal Dougherty High School and becoming the top recruit in the region. He stayed true to his roots, starring for the Villanova Wildcats and eventually having his No. 1 jersey retired in 2020.
He also has to recognize the writing is on the wall in Toronto. The organization won’t bring him back this offseason and if they are ready to move on, he should go to a team that wants him. Returning to Philadelphia and competing for an NBA championship with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris is the perfect outcome.
What would it cost to acquire Kyle Lowry?
If the Raptors are trading Kyle Lowry, it means waving the white flag on the remainder of the season. While there might still be enough talent for Toronto to grab a spot in the play-in tournament, dealing the perennial All-Star guard immediately signals a move toward the future. So, the 76ers will need to make an offer that convinces Masai Ujiri trading Lowry is the right move.
Using the NBA trade machine from NBATrade.com, we first need to think about matching salaries. Lowry is owed $30 million this season, one of the highest-paid guards in the NBA. Meanwhile, the 76ers are $11.4 million over the luxury tax and $34.9 million above the NBA salary cap.
Related: 4 ideal Kyle Lowry trade scenarios
Just to make the financial side of this deal work, Philadelphia needs to empty out a significant portion of its bench. Danny Green ($15.3 million), Mike Scott ($5 million) and Terrance Ferguson ($3.9 million) immediately head out the door. Their deals are expiring, so Toronto doesn’t need to worry about any multi-year commitments. Fortunately, the salaries fit enough to meet NBA rules and that pushes the 76ers one step closer towards a trade. Now, let’s look at the assets Philadelphia must send.
Toronto likely doesn’t pick up the phone without Tyrese Maxey being the featured asset coming its way. Maxey, the No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 NB Draft, is a talented 6-foot-2 guard with the upside to be a high-end starter. Only 20, Maxey would give the Raptors a guard to pair with Fred VanVleet to create an exciting duo for years to come.
Maxey alone won’t be enough. Philadelphia will also likely need to package its 2021 first-round pick and a defensive-minded player like Matisse Thybulle. That would certainly put Morey in an uncomfortable spot, losing so much depth and losing two talented, young players. But Thybulle brings defense and nothing else, while Maxey isn’t a rotation player on a championship-caliber team at this point. Lowry is the missing piece in Philadelphia’s lineup and this deal is the kind of win-now move Morey could make before the NBA trade deadline.
Impact of Kyle Lowry on Philadelphia 76ers
Kyle Lowry on the Philadelphia 76ers makes this a different team. This team badly needs a guard whose skills complement Simmons and Embiid, which isn’t always easy to find. A player who isn’t afraid to fire up from beyond the arc, can execute the pick-and-roll with Simmons and is a capable defender.
We’ll start with the three-point shooting. While he isn’t making as many treys as he used to, Lowry is shooting 40.2% from deep this season and averaging 2.9 three-pointers made per game. Keep in mind, he started the year on a cold streak by shooting 34.7% in January, only to rebound nicely in February (50.9%). In terms of his scoring efficiency, Lowry’s .559 true shooting rate is very respectable.
Defensively, we have to think about a matchup with the Nets. No team can shut down Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant. But if you put Lowry and Simmons on the floor, the 76ers have two players more than capable of containing Brooklyn’s star guards. In a seven-game playoff series, with Philadelphia already having a massive advantage in the paints, Lowry is the caliber of scorer and defender who could put the 76ers over the top and push them to the NBA Finals.
Lastly, we can’t ignore the little things Lowry would bring. He’s a player the fans would love, with the dream of the hometown kid bringing this city a title. He knows what it’s like to play in the NBA Finals, the kind of experience that will be valuable for Embiid, Simmons and Harris. On top of all that, adding his leadership, toughness and intelligence would be the icing on top of everything he already offers.
If the 76ers are serious about making a run this season, Kyle Lowry is the player who can help them reach the NBA Finals.