The Utah Jazz were reportedly interested in signing Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry when he was a free agent during the 2017 offseason.
According to Andy Larsen and Eric Walden, their patience with Gordon Hayward may have cost them an opportunity to add Lowry (via Salt Lake Tribune):
“The Jazz traded for Ricky Rubio, but he wasn’t the only point guard the Jazz were considering. Besides the incumbent starter, George Hill, according to multiple Tribune sources, the Jazz spoke extensively to Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry’s representatives about bringing the All-Star point guard to Utah. After those discussions, the Jazz felt confident about their ability to land Lowry, but chose to pull out of any potential deal because signing Lowry would have required cap space earmarked for the Hayward [deal].”
This just further illustrates how much the Jazz valued Hayward prior to his exit, and how truly blindsided they were by his decision to leave.
Around this time, of course, the organization had just drafted franchise cornerstone Donovan Mitchell. They considered bringing back George Hill to join him in their backcourt, but he eventually signed a contract with the Sacramento Kings.
It’s interesting that Utah still felt “confident” they could land Lowry despite already having Rubio in the mix. Perhaps they felt Rubio would thrive with their second unit, though he has started all 89 games he has played with the Jazz thus far.
Lowry has been dominant for the Raptors so far this season, leading the NBA with 11.0 assists per game. This would have significantly changed both organizations.
Would Toronto have still traded for Kawhi Leonard with Lowry out of the picture? Could Utah have potentially defeated the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals if they had a trio of Lowry, Mitchell and Rudy Gobert?
It’s worth mentioning that this story seems strange for several reasons. For one, if Lowry to the Jazz was so close to happening, it’s surprising that Lowry turned around and immediately agreed to re-sign with the Raptors on July 3 – one day before Hayward agreed to terms with Boston.
Also, why would the Jazz have traded for Rubio if they were “confident” they could sign Lowry. Trading for another starting-caliber point guard right before the start of free agency is a terrible way to attract a star point guard (especially Lowry, who spent much of his career outside of Toronto competing with other starting-caliber point guards for minutes – from Damon Stoudamire and Mike Conley in Memphis to Rafer Alston, Aaron Brooks and Goran Dragic in Houston).