From CBS Sports NBA insider Ken Berger's trade buzz column on Friday:
In addition to the Lakers, Knicks and Nets, the Timberwolves, Warriors and Celtics are among the teams that have inquired about a deal with the Raptors for Lowry, league sources say. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has been encouraged by the team's recent play, as Toronto has gone 9-3 since the trade with two of the losses coming against the Spurs But despite the Raptors' fourth-place status in the pitiful East, Ujiri is determined to take the long-term view. With the deadline less than seven weeks away, Ujiri is said to have multiple deals he could do for Lowry that would involve receiving an expiring contract in return or slotting him into another team's trade exception. Taking back future salary would come at a high price, i.e. a first-round pick.
First off, it's important to note that with each passing day, Toronto looks more and more like a team that might want to be a buyer and not a seller. They've now won 5 in a row (and 10 of 11 against teams not named the Spurs), moved above .500 (16-15), and appear to have the inside track on the third best record in the East with the Hawk's Al Horford done for the year.
Keep in mind the Raptors are not the Celtics; they've never won more than 47 games in a season, have only a single Atlantic Division title (2006-2007) to brag about, and have just one playoff series victory in franchise history (2001 over the Knicks). For them, the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference is a big deal.
But assuming Ujiri isn't interested in being second round playoff fodder for the Heat or Pacers, it still seems like the Celtics would be an unlikely trade destination for Lowry. He's playing great ball at the starting point guard spot, averaging 15.7 points and 7.5 assists with a 19.58 PER. Lowry is also making $6.2 million on a contract that expires at the end of this season. For the Celtics to be interested in him it would likely mean their plan is to deal Rajon Rondo as well, then hopefully re-sign Lowry at a reasonable price and make him their point guard of the future. That feels like a long shot at best, and not anything I'd want Danny Ainge to bank on.
Boston also isn't likely to offer the Raptors anything they want in return; both teams are in similar situations planning for the future. The Celtics wouldn't want to part with draft picks to get a guy who might be gone at the end of the year, and Toronto would have no interest in taking on contracts of players like Brandon Bass ($6.8 mil, one more year) or Courtney Lee ($5.5 mil, two more years).
If the Raptors really are looking to deal Lowry, it makes a lot more sense for them to target a club who is trying to win now and willing to part with future assets, not somebody like Boston who's in the same boat that they are.
Follow Mark Vandeusen on twitter @LucidSportsFan Mark Van Deusen 1/05/2014 03:08:00 PM Tweet Edit