Stay or go?

Rap­tors all-star guard Lowry gives no hints about fu­ture

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY LORI EWING

No mat­ter how the ques­tion was posed, Kyle Lowry wouldn’t bite.

The Toronto Rap­tors point guard will opt out of the fi­nal year of his con­tract and be­come a free agent, and a lu­cra­tive deal beck­ons.

But less than 24 hours af­ter the Rap­tors’ sea­son ended in a four-game sweep by the Cleve­land Cava­liers in the Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals, Lowry gave no hints about his in­ten­tions.

“Hon­estly man, I want to just get bet­ter, I want to have fun, I want to win a ring. I want to make sure my fam­ily is happy,” said Lowry, a fa­ther of two young boys. “And that’s all I’ve thought about right now.

“Hon­estly, I wouldn’t BS you guys. I would, but not this time. Not this time.”

The Rap­tors met with the me­dia on their tra­di­tional post­sea­son locker cleanout day. Hopes for the sea­son had been high af­ter their his­toric post­sea­son run a year ago. But they col­lided with Cleve­land ear­lier than ex­pected, and the mood around their Bios­teel Cen­tre train­ing fa­cil­ity Mon­day was one of un­re­al­ized goals.

Now Toronto heads into an off-sea­son of un­cer­tainty, with ques­tions not only about the fu­ture of Lowry, but coach Dwane Casey and free agents Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Pa­trick Pat­ter­son.

When asked to as­sess his per­for­mance on the sea­son, Casey said “could have done bet­ter. I al­ways feel that way.”

He sin­gled out his play­ers’ con­fi­dence in three-point shoot­ing, plus de­fen­sive ar­eas such as shot chal­lenges and ro­ta­tions.

“There’s al­ways ar­eas in our team, in our play, that I feel like I can do a bet­ter job, our staff, we all can do bet­ter,” Casey said. “There’s noth­ing we can be sat­is­fied about, with our job per­for­mance, es­pe­cially af­ter the way we went out. Even the sea­son, there were times we

could have been bet­ter de­fen­sively, bet­ter of­fen­sively, def­i­nitely, and adapt­ing to the new age NBA, which is the three (pointer).”

A year af­ter all-star DeMar DeRozan, who was fac­ing free agency, made his in­ten­tions about stay­ing in Toronto crys­tal clear, Lowry had some fun ver­bally spar­ring with re­porters, who asked sev­eral times about his in­ten­tions.

“You know what? That’s a good ques­tion. Haven’t thought about it though,” he said with a wry smile. “I’ve said that three times al­ready. Four. That’ll be my fourth time. I’m go­ing to say it one more time. Only thing I’ve thought about is opt­ing out. Which I will do. And get­ting bet­ter

as a bas­ket­ball player. Those two things.

“Want to try again?” laughed Lowry, who had a player op­tion for next year worth US$12 mil­lion, but stands to earn sig­nif­i­cantly more.

Can the team get to where it wants to go with­out Lowry?

“It would be dif­fi­cult,” Casey said.

Lowry led the Rap­tors past Mil­wau­kee in the open­ing round of the play­offs and was Toronto’s best player in Games 1 and 2 against Cleve­land. A sprained an­kle saw him miss the last two games.

“Man, it sucked,” he said. “I wanted to be out there with my team­mates and I wanted to play. Sit­ting on the bench in

Game 3 suited up and know­ing I can’t play, Game 4 sit­ting there try­ing to help my team no mat­ter what it was — help­ing them see plays, coach — it just sucks that I wasn’t able to help my team.”

Ibaka, who was ac­quired with Tucker at Fe­bru­ary’s trade dead­line to in­ject some much­needed tough­ness, said he hasn’t thought about his fu­ture, but that “I have fun here. I like the city, I like the fans.”

Tucker proved his worth in the play­offs, par­tic­u­larly in Game 4 against Cleve­land when he forced LeBron James to make six turnovers.

Rap­tors pres­i­dent Ma­sai Ujiri is sched­uled to meet with the me­dia to­day.

CP PHOTO

The crowd re­acts af­ter Toronto Rap­tors guard Kyle Lowry made a bas­ket in the last sec­onds of NBA play­off ac­tion against the Mil­wau­kee Bucks in Toronto on April 18.

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