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Lewenberg: Raptors' Lowry won't cower from trade speculation

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Josh Lewenberg
12/13/2013 3:05:19 PM
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TORONTO - For many, it would have already become an elephant in the room, an awkward matter best ignored.

For Kyle Lowry, it's become an accepted reality.

He will be traded. The question is, when and where?

The Raptors' point guard is widely believed to be next on general manager Masai Ujiri's chopping block after the first domino - Rudy Gay, Lowry's best friend - fell last week. On Thursday, multiple outlets - namely ESPN and Yahoo Sports - linked Lowry to trade discussion with a number of interested teams, including the Knicks and the Nets.

A day later, as the Raptors got set to host the road-weary 76ers, the easy answer for Lowry would have been none at all. He could have brushed off the reports, spouted off cliches or dodged the media all together. But he did no such thing.

"Honestly, I started hearing [the rumours] once I left here for practice [Thursday] and then it was crazy for, like, four hours," he said Friday morning. "At night, I turned my phone off and went to sleep. I wake up, if I'm traded, I'm traded and if not, I'll come to shootaround."

"Everybody read everything yesterday, seen everything yesterday. To this point, I'm still a Raptor and I'm focused on tonight, playing against the 76ers."

Moving Lowry, who was acquired by the previous regime prior to last season, has become a priority for Ujiri. Averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 assists through 20 games, Lowry - owed $6.2 million this year - will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and it's clear he is not part of the Raptors' long-term plans.

Lowry has not been in contact with Ujiri regarding his future and doesn't plan to reach out.

"If he trades me, then I'll talk to him," Lowry said. "He's always been a GM that's been kind of in the background. He's not in the forefront, he lets us play and that's how he's been this whole year."

Although one report stated that he's wanted to be moved for most of the season, Lowry clarified that he has not asked the Raptors' GM for a trade.

"No, none whatsoever," said coach Dwane Casey, asked if Lowry has expressed a desire to be traded. "That's the first I've heard of that and I've never heard of Kyle or sensed Kyle wanted to be traded at all. I have no knowledge of that."

While the market for Gay was limited, leading to Sunday's sudden seven-player deal with Sacramento, there's far more interest in Lowry and his affordable, expiring contract. With that in mind, Ujiri will not be rushed into moving his starting point guard. Lowry is a professional and has obvious motivation to continue playing hard, auditioning for his next contract, but his inevitable departure is an obvious distraction to him and the rest of the team.

"Yeah of course, I mean no one can say it doesn't [weigh on them] but at the same time, you have to know that this is a business," he stated. "You have to know the situation you are in, the situation that you're going to be in. You can't let it affect you too much because you still have to go out here and do a job and try to win for the team you're playing for."

He and his teammates are trying their best to approach the seemingly uncomfortable situation with a sense of humour.

"We all read HoopsHype," he admitted with a smirk on his face. "You see it everyday, you see it whenever they update it and everyone talks about it. But we joke about it a little bit. We make it more of a lighter-type thing, don't make it a heavy-hearted thing, make it like a joke, like hey man, you still here?"

For now and until Ujiri finds an offer he likes, Lowry remains a Raptor. He will continue to play and play hard, because it's the right thing to do but mostly because it's in his best interest. All the while, his eventual replacement and newly-acquired point guard Greivis Vasquez will back him up and even spend some time alongside him in the Raptors' backcourt.

The situation is what it is. It will be as awkward as the team allows it be, until - in the very near future - it's dealt with, until speculation finally becomes reality. Until then, we wait and so does the team and its point guard.

Kyle Lowry (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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