Toronto Raptors goalie Kyle Lowry repeatedly insisted Wednesday night that he didn’t know what would happen by the NBA trade deadline of 3 p.m. ET on Thursday.
But that didn’t stop an air of finality from looming over the debates after a 135-111 win over the visiting Denver Nuggets, as the greatest player in Raptors franchise history spoke to the media for it. which will probably be his last time in a Toronto. uniform.
“It was a little weird tonight not knowing what the next step would be, just realizing that there are things that could be done,” Lowry said. “It was different tonight, of course.
“I mean, who knows what’s going to happen?” No one knows what’s going to happen. But it was definitely, of course, different. ”
While the Raptors’ victory ended a losing nine-game streak, giving them their first win since February 26, the focus after the game was almost exclusively on what will happen on Thursday, when the Raptors won’t play a game. match, but instead potentially. trade two loyal members of the team’s massively successful run in recent seasons to Lowry and guard Norman Powell.
Both players are on expiring contracts, and as Toronto collapses in the Eastern standings and in the middle of a season spent in Tampa, Florida, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they enter Thursday. as two of the best players to potentially change. teams.
It was an occasion big enough that Canadian icon – and frequent Raptors fan on the court – Drake spoke to Lowry via FaceTime in the middle of Lowry’s post-game media session, offering to translate his responses to media – an offer Lowry declined.
Lowry began his media shoot by saluting the five women of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment – Meghan McPeak, Kia Nurse, Kate Beirness, Amy Audibert and Kayla Gray – who earlier became the NBA’s first all-female broadcast team. He spoke fondly of his time in Toronto. He recounted how, after the early years of his career, he found a home with the Raptors, the team that forged him into a star and future Hall of Famer and with whom he won a championship two years ago. seasons. .
“Well I think if you come back [then-Raptors general manager] Bryan Colangelo traded for me to become – unfortunately they missed Steve Nash – and he traded me to become the playmaker, “Lowry said, referring to the trade that brought him to Toronto from Houston in 2012. . ”The trade was made for me to receive the keys. And honestly, like, you know, I wanted to take advantage of it.
“I think that’s right, it clicked more on the fact that like, you know, they believed in me, okay, the organization believed in me from top to bottom… everyone, top to bottom , they believed in me and what I could do as an individual player and as a leader, so I think that would really help, you know, sort of, you know, click it all, put it all together. ”
The same sentimentality about Lowry’s time in Toronto was also reflected in his teammates and coaches – who all went to Toronto after Lowry.
“We’ve really grown together,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “When I got here I was new to the NBA and he wasn’t really a rookie player, like a legitimate rookie.
“So it’s been that growth up to six times All-Star, an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title, which is really amazing for Kyle Lowry, I think. And he’s the most broken, or he’s really high up there, out of all of them. Raptors records. He might be the greatest Raptor of all time, I think, to date. ”
Lowry, however, wasn’t the only one facing his last night as the Raptor. Powell, who has only played for Toronto in his six NBA seasons, could also be away on Thursday.
He said the strangest part of the days and weeks leading up to the deadline was not hearing his name scoffed at in the media, but rather in the conversations he had with members of the organization in Toronto on what it would be for him. play elsewhere.
“I haven’t watched SportsCenter, to be honest,” said Powell. “I really don’t see a lot of things. I mean, it’s weird around me. I feel like, with some people in the organization, I’m always asked what can happen, this, that and the other. But I say some people in the organization, our medical staff were emotional and things like that, and I tell them to relax and calm down.
“But it’s a business. You connect with people. … I don’t really mind. Whatever happens, I cannot speak of emotions that are not there at the moment. I will wait and see like everyone else. ”
Things are different, however, for Lowry, whose transformation from NBA runabout to All-Star and champion mirrored the Raptors’ rise from a forgotten franchise to one that has been a consistent winner over the past few seasons. That, despite the fact that he and his teammates haven’t played a game in Toronto in over a year, forged a connection that adds extra meaning to everything happening on Thursday.
Lowry, who has already said in a previous media session that he will retire as a Raptor no matter what by the trade deadline or this summer in free agency, will be 36 on Thursday.
He said he was hoping to play golf and had his phone on, but that he would just wait and see what his agent, Mark Bartelstein, has to say when he calls him, rather than looking at his phone. phone and wait to see what will happen.
Whatever he ends up hearing, Lowry said he would be at peace with the jersey he was going to put on once Thursday’s deadline passed.
“What will be will be, honestly,” he said. ” It’s the truth. What will be will be. At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason. You can’t control everything, and in some situations you can, but every decision that has taken place that I’ve had a choice to make has worked out great for me, and everything will be fine.
“In the end, everything will be fine no matter what. ”
And, if he’s no longer in Toronto, Lowry will leave an indelible mark on a franchise he has built over the past eight seasons.
“I praised him as much as I could, [and] I certainly don’t mind doing that, “Nurse said.” My only comment I always make, which I think is the biggest compliment I give him, is that he plays harder than anyone I have. never seen.
“On the coaching field or coaching against or watching games or whatever, he’s playing harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. I can’t give him a bigger compliment than that. ”