NBA

Lowry re-signs with Raptors as free agent moratorium ends

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The Canadian Press
7/10/2014 6:31:53 PM
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TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry didn't hide the fact he met with contenders like the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets during the interview portion of NBA free agency, but in the end the opportunity to call the Toronto Raptors "his team" was too good to pass up.

Lowry and the Raptors officially announced a four-year US$48 million dollar deal Thursday. The deal was reported last week but couldn't be made official until Thursday, when the moratorium on signings was lifted.

"They were real factors. I did my homework. I did my research," the point guard said. "I had a couple meetings with my family and we circled the pros and cons and we took teams away one by one.

"Other teams had some great things and I think they had pieces that were comparable pieces, but I think the situation that I'm in, the age I'm (at), me being able to lead a team, to lead a team and grow as a person, that was a very big factor in it."

Lowry played a large role in the Raptors ending a five-year playoff drought this past season. The 28-year-old averaged 17.9 points and 7.4 assists per game and had a player efficiency rating of 20.1, which placed him 22nd in the league and sixth among point guards.

The six-foot, 205-pound Philadelphia native, made $6.2 million last season. His new deal, which carries an annual average value of $12 million puts him atop the Raptors payroll. By comparison, DeMar DeRozan's deal, which is in the second of four years, pays him $9.5-million in 2014-15.

"The deal was done exactly the way I wanted," said Lowry, who joined the Raptors in a 2012 trade with Houston. "You don't get many chances to say it's 'your team', honestly. As a competitor, as a professional, I relish in that. The fact that I get to say that 'its' my team', I'm the leader of the team."

Toronto finished a franchise-best 46-34 in the regular season to win the club's second Atlantic Division before losing to Brooklyn in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Re-signing Lowry, one of the top unrestricted point guards available, was a high priority for Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri.

"It was a good feeling I had coming out of the meeting (with Kyle)," said Ujiri of negotiations. "I've had this meeting before where its' gone the other way and you come out and you're like going 'what just happened there?' or 'where is this going?'.

"With Kyle, there's always been a great spirit and great communication so I had a sense, but with free agency you never know because it can spin in one day. We're glad he made the decision. It says so much about him and maybe even our organization."

Lowry's signing is just part of what has been a busy off-season for Ujiri. Thursday afternoon the club announced it had dealt forward Steve Novak and a future second-round draft choice to the Utah Jazz for point guard Diante Garrett.

The six-foot-four, 190-pound Garrett appeared in 71 games with the Jazz last season, averaging 3.5 points, 1.7 assists and 14.8 minutes.

On Wednesday night reports surfaced the team has re-signed Greivis Vasquez to a two-year, $13 million contract. Vasquez's signing is in addition to reports the team has inked big man Patrick Patterson to a three-year US$18 million contract. Both deals are expected to be announced Monday. Toronto has also reportedly come to terms with 18-year-old Brazilian Bruno Cabloco, who Toronto took 20th overall at the NBA draft.

The Raptors have also reportedly brought back James Johnson with a two-year deal. The forward spent part of the 2010-11 season and all of 2011-12 with Toronto.

Last week, Ujiri dealt John Salmons' contract along with a 2015 second-round draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Lou Williams and the rights to Brazilian rookie Lucas (Bebe) Nogueira.

Ujiri admitted the re-signing of Vasquez, and the acquisition of Williams, were moves to protect the long-term health of Lowry.

"Hundred per cent in our game plan because he's signed here for four years," said Ujiri. "There's going to be lots of games and we have to think about that. We have to think of his body and the load of work. Greivis will take a good load off of (Kyle) and so will Lou."

As for future signings, Ujiri doesn't believe he has much left.

"In terms of signings I think we only have one more spot," he said. "We're looking to bring Bebe, to sign him, we're trying to figure that out and after that, we have one more spot."

Lowry has confidence in his general manager.

"I believe in Masai, he's going to always make the right decision," Lowry said. "No matter what he did, you've got to support it because his track record is so good."



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