NBA rumors: NBA probe on acquisitions of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry reaching final state

More on Kyle Lowry Free Agency

With the NBA investigating the timing of the sign-and-trade transaction utilized by the Miami Heat to land free-agent guard Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors, several mitigating factors would appear to stand in the Heat’s favor.
Aware of those parameters, the Heat last Sunday picked up the 2021-22 $19.4 million team option on the contract of veteran guard Goran Dragic, with that contract along with the contract of neophyte center Precious Achiuwa utilized as matching salaries for the Lowry acquisition. The advance work on the Lowry possibility at the NBA trading deadline was in marked contrast to the sign-and-trade agreement between the Bulls and Pelicans for Ball, with no trade consideration in that case at the trading deadline.

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Anthony Chiang: A reminder: The NBA's moratorium period ends at noon tomorrow, after which deals can of officially be signed. As of earlier today, the machinations of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade transaction were still being worked out.
The Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade to Miami isn't in doubt, but it appears the reason it hasn't been officially completed yet is that Toronto is now trying to re-home Goran Dragic. In statements to the media, Dragic expressed a desire to join the Mavericks and play with Luka Doncic, something Dallas is known to be interested in as well. To join as a third team in that deal, Dallas would have to send at least $14.4 million in salary to Toronto, something most easily done by combining Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein. But that's also where it gets complicated.
Dallas wouldn't want to do that because Powell is beloved around the organization, and losing two centers in the same transaction would thin the team's depth. The Mavs also don't want to replace Cauley-Stein with one of their prospects in Josh Green or Tyrell Terry. But Toronto likely views Dragic, a proven veteran on an expiring deal, as a positive asset. Dallas wants him, so why shouldn't it give something up? That's the current limbo it's easy to imagine both teams in right now. One possible solution is Dallas finding an expendable player Toronto does want and using a recently acquired trade exception (TPE) to bring something more conducive to the Raptors' likings.

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Kyle Lowry tweets announcement that he's signing with the Heat.

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Jordan Schultz: The #Heat really like the idea of reuniting Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (MLE) according to league sources - with one saying a S-T (Dragic) is the preferable choice to acquire Lowry. Both Kyle and DeMar have maintained a great friendship since playing together w/the #Raptors.
New Orleans has prioritized Lowry, as has Dallas, per sources, while the Knicks and 76ers—the latter of which has been internally discussing sign-and-trade scenarios—will be in the mix. Lowry will be expensive: Team execs expect Lowry to command anywhere from $25-30 million per year on a three-year deal.
The Miami Heat are positioning themselves to become front-runners to land Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade agreement once discussions are permitted to begin with the opening of NBA free agency on Monday, sources told ESPN. Lowry has long been intrigued with joining Heat star Jimmy Butler and the Miami organization, and now Miami has maneuvered to have two key elements of a possible sign-and-trade package -- guard Goran Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa -- to offer the Raptors once talks can ensue at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, sources said.
Lowry, 35, made $30 million in the final year of his contract and is seeking a deal in a similar neighborhood of starting annual salary over multiple years with his new team, sources said. New Orleans and Dallas are two teams with salary cap space and strong interest in Lowry who are beginning to search elsewhere for starting point guard help, sources said.
Marc Stein: As momentum builds toward Kyle Lowry landing with Miami when free agency officially opens Monday at 6 PM ET and its own hopes for striking a sign-and-trade deal with the Heat dimming, Dallas has shifted its focus from Lowry to other free-agent targets, league sources say
Barry Jackson: As we and others have written, and the great Woj reiterated today, Lowry remains Heat high priority target. Looms as Heat/Pelicans/Mavericks battle, with Knicks and 76ers also potentially in play. The decision to exercise Dragic option suggests Toronto might be OK taking him back
Bobby Marks: Mentioned this on @SportsCenter this morning. The decision of Kyle Lowry has huge consequences for the rest of the league. pic.twitter.com/Whtrts7h5k

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Zach Lowe: Miami and Lowry have been linked for a long time now, per sources. (Lowry of course has drawn interest from many teams all year.) Feels like Lowry is going to be the first major domino given New Orleans space and all the point guards in free agency.
Adrian Wojnarowski: As the Miami Heat create salary cap space, Toronto free agent guard Kyle Lowry remains a firm target in free agency, sources tell ESPN. Miami has more levers to pull to create space to sign Lowry outright -- or can still endeavor to work a sign-and-trade with the Raptors.
Tim Reynolds: It's now Sunday in the US, meaning free agency starts tomorrow there, so it's probably time to say this: Per source, when it comes to Kyle Lowry, the Miami Heat "have his attention and have had it for a while." Buckle up, kids.
Yet while New Orleans has gained momentum toward landing Lowry, the race for his services still does consist of several suitors. Miami and Dallas are expected to aggressively pursue the All-Star point guard, sources said, as Lowry's close relationship with Heat centerpiece Jimmy Butler is often mentioned among league personnel.
From everything I’ve been told, they are going to pursue Kawhi Leonard and then, once the door is slammed in their face, pivot to a hard pursuit of Lowry. I think he makes sense for them as a target because he couldn’t possibly fit better, and the worry about his age isn’t as strong for me because the Mavs plus Lowry are plausibly good enough to contend … especially in a West with no obvious front-runner.
David Griffin hopes to make a huge offer to veteran free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, sources say, in an effort to import the type of leadership that Chris Paul brought to the Suns last year in morphing them into contenders. Green fits with that plan. He and Suns coach Monty Williams are deeply aligned and have the same relationship-based approach to coaching. Williams and Green were teammates in Philadelphia 18 years ago, then Green played for Williams in New Orleans a decade ago.
The Dallas Mavericks' post-draft focus, sources say, will be the pursuit of Kyle Lowry (along with Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia) and their bid to re-sign Tim Hardaway Jr. Dallas was initially expected to wait and see if Kawhi Leonard gave any indication that he was open to leaving the Clippers, but the Mavericks have moved off of those plans.
However, the speculation is the Pels have the opposite plan in mind: That they want to pursue Toronto guard Kyle Lowry in free agency, and now have the ammunition to outbid anybody if need be. (Sources also tell The Athletic the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat will be major suitors for Lowry, with Dallas trying to clear more room to give itself a leg up).
New Orleans' deal appears directly engineered as a way to clear salary-cap space for an aggressive offer for Kyle Lowry in free agency. The Lakers, Sixers, Mavericks and Heat all remain linked by league sources as potential Lowry suitors, which will be just one element of a cluttered point guard market. It's believed New Orleans, like each other team just mentioned, would have its sights set on Spencer Dinwiddie should Lowry choose to play elsewhere. The spinning of that point guard carousel will surely impact the landing spots for Lonzo Ball and Dennis Schroder, too.
The Heat, New Orleans, Dallas, the Knicks, Philadelphia and the Lakers are all believed to have interest. And Lowry would have interest in each of those teams at the right dollar amount, according to a source briefed on his plans. A return to Toronto is considered much less likely, according to the source.
The source said Lowry holds the Heat in high regard — and is close with Jimmy Butler — but isn’t necessarily inclined to accept less from Miami if one of those other teams offers more. Speaking in general after the season, Lowry said he would like to be positioned to win another championship but added: “Money talks, and years talk; let’s be real. … At the end of the day, I want to make sure my family is taken care of for generations.”
Miami’s other option would be working out a sign-and-trade with Toronto, but it’s questionable if the sides can agree on compensation. The Heat remains reluctant to include Herro in a sign-and-trade for Lowry, according to a source.
It’s iffy if the Raptors would be willing to take Nunn in such a deal; one source did not believe Toronto had considerable interest in the impending Heat free agent. Nunn also would need to agree to sign with Toronto in that scenario.
A league source said the Sixers have expressed interest in acquiring Lowry. However, the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Miami Heat are also reportedly expected to be top suitors.
Regarding the Pelicans, opposing teams expect New Orleans to explore ways to shed salary in pursuit of a veteran. Kyle Lowry is one player on New Orleans’ radar, sources confirm.
“It’s a very average free-agent group for unrestricted free agents,” said one Western Conference executive. “For example, there is no KD or a Giannis. The best guys are DeRozan, Lowly and Conley. But if some guys opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents, then that changes things.”
The first option for the seven-time NBA champion is Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors whom the Lakers failed to acquire before the trade deadline this past season. “It’s going to be hard because of that salary cap for them to get a veteran guard,” Horry said on ESPN’s The Jump. “You talk about CP3, I don’t think he’ going to give up all that money to go to the Lakers. And you talk about Westbrook. It’s too much money. “You got to think about. The Lakers aren’t going to do that. If you’re going to look for a guard, you got to go with someone like Kyle Lowry. I know they didn’t get him in the trade but maybe you can sweet talk him and say ‘Yo man, we can give you whatever we can, come play for us, let’s win a championship. You only got one, dog. One ring don’t really count anybody, you gotta get two or more so come play with us with the Lakers.’
Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe were two guys that some executives I had spoken to around the league felt could be tradeable guys for New Orleans. If you’re going to try to offer Lowry the type of money he’s looking for in free agency, they have to move one of those guys… The interest in Lowry makes sense for New Orleans trying to get better. I don’t think he’s this Chris Paul type of player who can elevate them to where the Suns were as a championship contender, but he’d certainly make them better for the short term.
Marc Stein: There is rising buzz New Orleans plans to enter the race for free agent-to-be Kyle Lowry, league sources say. There will be several Lowry suitors but it's clear why the Pels, desperate to help Zion Williamson reach the playoffs, would want in. More NBA: subscribe to Marc Stein's NBA Newsletter.
This is the strongest market ever for former Grizzlies point guards. As with Mike Conley below, age will be a factor: Kyle Lowry is 35, so we’re probably looking at a two-year deal in the $50 million range.
The scout said that the ideal person to run the Sixers offense is Kyle Lowry, who made $30.5 million for Toronto last season and will be entering free agency. The scout said he doesn’t feel Lowry is a $30 million-type player at age 35, but that he can still be highly effective if he came to the Sixers. Lowry is from Philadelphia, starring at Cardinal Dougherty and then Villanova before beginning a 15-year NBA career that has included an NBA championship in 2019 with the Raptors and six All-Star appearances. “I would move heaven and earth to try to bring him home,” the scout said of Lowry. “He would be a natural for this team, a strong leader, and somebody who could take over the ballhandling load.”
In the past, sources said Lowry — a Philadelphia guy who played at Villanova — wanted to be a Knick. He’s 35, an NBA champion and still can bring shotmaking and playmaking. Don’t discount Lowry re-signing, unless the Raptors draft Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs. One league executive said giving more than a one-year guarantee at max money makes for a risk at age 35. “He’s better suited for a title contender — and that’s not the Knicks,’’ one personnel man said.
Nick Nurse on Kyle Lowry's free agency: “He still puts his body on the line. He still guards hard. He still scores, his numbers are good, his shooting percentages are good. And he's a tremendous talent. I hope we keep him. I think he's part of our core.”
“Everyone’s gonna have their own opinion,” Lowry said. “And it’s a good story for people to write and to have fun with. But we’ll see what happens. No one knows what the future holds. No one knows what comes with the next day. We all just have to live it every day and every moment. And that’s important, to just take it day by day and minute by minute, hour by hour, and live our lives like that. But it’s a cool story to write for people. I just hope they make me look really cool.”
The other major decision facing the Raptors this offseason is attempting to retain star free agent Kyle Lowry, the team's longest-tenured player and one of the driving forces behind its 2019 title. Ujiri said that decision will be made, in part, on what direction Toronto looks to go as an organization this offseason. "It just depends on what we are doing," Ujiri said. "When we evaluate this, we are evaluating in many ways. One of the ways we have looked at is giving the young guys even more opportunity and building the future rather than now. We have to look at the organization that way.
Kyle Lowry is among the point guards on the Knicks' radar for the 2021 offseason, SNY has learned. Lowry will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. He will likely command multi-year offers from several teams, but his future in Toronto is unclear due to the uncertainty over the future direction of the franchise.
Prior to the 2021 trade deadline, the Raptors had discussions with several teams – including the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat – about trades involving Lowry. The Heat have long been linked to Lowry, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Miami pursued the 35-year-old in free agency.
Lowry not getting traded at the March 25 deadline was quite a surprise, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of the Toronto front office. But as team president Masai Ujiri made clear back then, the Raptors still have an incredibly high opinion of Lowry and his game that — as they saw it — wasn’t properly reflected in the offers that came their way. Yet among the three teams known to be in hot pursuit of Lowry back then — the Lakers, Miami and Philadelphia — only the Heat are in a financial position to possibly sign Lowry outright this summer. Sources say the Sixers still plan on pursuing him by way of a possible sign-and-trade. While they added George Hill at the deadline in lieu of Lowry, only $1.2 million of his $10 million salary for next season is guaranteed, and the deal expires at that point. The Lowry interest remains very strong there.
If it doesn’t work out with Oladipo, the Heat could pivot back to Lowry. League sources said if Lowry had been traded, his preference was the Heat because of his close friendship with Jimmy Butler. The Heat can realistically create about $26 million in space while retaining the restricted free-agent rights to Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, if the salary cap is $112 million as currently projected.
Oleh Kosel: Brian Windhorst on The Jump says it's unclear if Pelicans can afford to keep Lonzo Ball due to other financial commitments but to watch Knicks, Heat and Raptors. Zo, Schroder & Lowry are "to be the subject of a bidding war amongst the teams that need a point guard this summer."
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May 21, 2022 | 12:31 pm EDT Update

Bulls interested in Matisse Thybulle

The Sixers could look to get off Matisse Thybulle’s contract to create some wiggle room under the luxury tax, which looms large over the team’s offseason, and one team with known interest, according to league sources, is Chicago. Bulls GM Marc Eversley has had a fondness for Thybulle going back to early in his collegiate career at Washington, and was instrumental in pushing the Sixers to acquire him in the 2019 draft.
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The Magic landed the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft thanks to Tuesday’s lottery, and NBA sources say there is virtually no chance they’ll trade off the pick unless it is a package that includes one of the other top-3 picks, as the Celtics did in 2017, trading to No. 3 to take Jason Tatum. That option might be available for the Magic, even if they are unlikely to accept it. “Other than No. 1, I think just about every team is going to be willing to talk about their picks in this draft,” one executive told Heavy. That starts with No. 2 Oklahoma City and No. 3 Houston.

Nuggets president Tim Connelly to meet with Wolves ownership

Nuggets president Tim Connelly is heading to Minnesota this weekend as the next step in the Timberwolves’ recruitment of him, a league source confirmed to The Denver Post. Connelly, who’s overseen the Nuggets since 2013, is planning to meet with Wolves owner Glen Taylor. ESPN first reported the development. With a stable organization, a reigning two-time MVP and a place where his family is comfortable, Connelly has no reason to leave the Nuggets. The only X-factor? Compensation. It’s believed the Timberwolves’ offer is more than double his current salary. Minnesota’s interest didn’t come out of nowhere. In fact, it was discussed when Connelly, team governor Josh Kroenke and coach Michael Malone all went to Serbia to surprise Nikola Jokic with his MVP trophy. News of Minnesota’s interest in poaching Connelly from Denver got out on Wednesday. Publicly, it’s been more than 48 hours since Denver’s ownership has had a chance to counter or ensure Connelly doesn’t even listen to Minnesota’s proposal. Privately, they’ve had far longer than that.
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Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is traveling to meet with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor this weekend in the next step in the team’s pursuit to hire Connelly and make him one of the NBA’s highest-compensated executives, sources told ESPN. Connelly has discussed the job extensively with Timberwolves minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in the past week, and meeting with Taylor is next in the process, sources said.