After leading them back into the Playoffs for the first time last season since the 2007–’08 season, the Toronto Raptors inked point guard Kyle Lowry to a four-year, $48 million contract this summer.
In a terrific Grantland profile, Lowry reveals that when he was dealt from Houston to Toronto in July 2012, the Raptors front-office was too busy chasing the ghost of Steve Nash to ever envision Lowry becoming one of the faces of the franchise:
“You always ask for a team to be your team, right?” he said. “Every single night, that team and your teammates are like, All right, you know you need to bring it for everybody else. And if you don’t bring it, they ain’t bringing it. So when you’re the leader, you’ve got to [be] mentally focused every night. Luckily, my backcourt mate [DeMar DeRozan], we get along. I say we’re co-leaders and we understand [that] sometimes, things aren’t going to go the right way … Every single night, we’re playing for each other.”
“I didn’t want to get traded,” Lowry said. “I knew [Toronto was] trying to get Steve Nash. This is what they said: They wanted Steve Nash to be the point guard for two years and then me learn behind Nash and to get paid and be the starter after Steve called it a career. I said, ‘No, I don’t want to be a backup. You’re not trading for me to be a backup.’ They did the trade anyway, but they didn’t get Steve.”
Even with the failed pursuit of Nash — who landed with the Lakers — Toronto had another entrenched starter in Jose Calderon. “Jose is a great player and [an even] better person, but I felt we needed a so-called ‘point guard of the future’ and a player the team could build an identity around,” wrote Bryan Colangelo, Toronto’s general manager at the time, in a recent email. “This is not a knock on Jose, but Kyle was definitely that guy. […] I truly believed we would be much better with him running the team so a mid-to-late 1st was not a high price. Turns out I was only close to right — number 12 was less than ‘mid’ and my timing was a year off as far as team performance.”