Thomsen: Lowry, Raptors silencing skeptics during uncertain times - Page 2

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Old 01-18-2014, 01:11 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:35 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Raptors Lowry sat down and discussed expectations with Ujiri in preseason

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The preseason meeting was called by Masai Ujiri, the freshly minted general manager of the Toronto Raptors. Seated around the table were Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum, team president Tim Leiweke, Ujiri and his senior advisor Wayne Embry, a Hall of Famer. They were gathered for a kind of intervention on behalf of 27-year-old Kyle Lowry, an overachieving point guard who had developed a reputation for undermining his teams and himself.

"I said, 'Kyle, these are All-Star people, successful people, and we want to put you in that same position," recalled Ujiri. "I said, 'Some of the things you do doesn't show that you want to be in that position. We want to give you opportunity to change the culture here that we are going to grow -- we want to give you that opportunity."'

Their criticism was meant to be constructive. One by one, Ujiri and his colleagues told Lowry of the potential they saw in him, of the leadership their team needed from him, and of this opportunity to become the player that they and he believed he could become.

"It put a lot of things into perspective for me," said Lowry. "For him to have those guys in that room with me was big for me. All these guys telling you how important you are, it's humbling. It makes you just focus in on, you do not want to let these guys down because of what they are telling you."


Lowry spent the opening five weeks putting their advice into practice, but to no avail. Ujiri had already shipped Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks for three picks (including a first rounder in 2016) and three players; on Dec. 10, after he packaged Rudy Gay to Sacramento, the Raptors were a disappointing 7-13. It was time to investigate the value of the team and the potential for improvement. The next moveable piece was Lowry.

"I explained to him and his agent it could go either way," said Ujiri. "If we develop and play well and grow as a team, then I have to look at this one way; and if we totally collapse and we're not winning very often, then I have to figure out something. Kyle knew and his agent knew. He was really professional and he really pushed the team, so give him all credit. It wasn't something where we were doing stuff without him knowing; I spelled it out in every possible way I could."

But there was no market for Lowry, which spoke not only to the reputation he had earned as a destructive leader, but also to the urgency of his current mission. At 6-feet and 175 pounds there was a hint of Isiah Thomas to his game: He fought so hard to compete against the bigger opponents that he created enemies. In Lowry's case he was blind to the negative impact he made on his own teams, which led to his departure from the Grizzlies (who picked him No. 24 out of Villanova in 2006) and the Rockets, who were relieved to trade him to Toronto in 2012. The message of the Raptors leadership was for Lowry find a way to channel his competitiveness in a constructive way.

"Just be a pro at all times," said Lowry of their advice. "Be a pro, lead the team. When something goes bad you can't let anything put your head down; you got to make sure everyone knows and sees that you're ready to go and you're confident. Don't worry about what people say or what happened in the past. Just worry about right now, this year. Just worry about every single game and worry about winning."

The only team known to be interested in trading for Lowry last month was the Knicks, and even they weren't sure whether he would do more harm than good on their dysfunctional roster. As the negotiations with New York stalled, Lowry was making his best effort to put the good advice into effect.

"It made a huge, huge difference," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey of the meeting. "Just hearing it from them made a huge impression. If it doesn't, then the guy's brain dead. Kyle has responded to it. He's been great with it.

"Everybody grows up, everybody has an opportunity to change. Kyle has changed from that perception that's around the league to where he is right now. He's been a great teammate. I think the turning point was that meeting that Masai had with Wayne and Larry and Tim -- they just laid it out, here it is on the table, here is what we're looking for, there's no gray area. Coach is our coach. You're the player. There is no player-coach controversy. Whatever coach says ..."


While the Knicks vacillated -- the rumors of a trade having been widely reported -- the Raptors thrived. It makes sense now, even though it was unexpected at the time: The departure of Gay has created space for DeMar DeRozan to emerge as a potential All-Star. A starting role was created for second-year guard Terrence Ross, who responded to the increased responsibility by simplifying his game and seizing opportunities instead of forcing them.

The trade was no fleecing, because the Kings, winners in four of their last five games, have been happy with the talent upgrade they've received with Gay. But the instant improvement of the Raptors has been phenomenal all the same. They've gone 13-6 to rise to No. 4 in the East at 19-18 overall. Their defense ranks among the NBA's top three in the New Year, and all of their good news is revolving around the relentless attacking style of Lowry at both ends of the floor. So far this month he's 23 for 47 from three-point range (48.9 percent) while averaging career bests of 16.0 points and 7.4 assists for the season, with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.44 that ranks third among point guards.

"Pass, shoot, rebound, play defense, take charges -- he's a do-it-all point guard," said Ross. "If he was 6-4 or 6-5, he'd be a crazy, crazy force. It's crazy what he puts his body through. It's like man, you probably could play football. He's helping everybody get better."

If the Knicks had traded for Lowry, would he be having the same positive impact? Maybe not: Maybe the absence of structure and a single-minded point of view in New York would have aggravated the worst side of his competitive nature.

"He's done a good job of working with the young players -- he communicates with (Jonas) Valanciunas, he's been great," said Casey. "I haven't seen a lot of change as far as that edge. And I don't want to lose that edge. I want him to be that junkyard dog on the floor. But also communicate more. He's done everything we've asked him to do: communicate with the staff, teammates. So far so good."
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That last statement carries the most weight: For these last five weeks amount to nothing more than a good first step for Lowry and his Raptors. Who knows whether it will lead to long-term success? In the meantime, this first step is better than any other direction they might have taken. "I think Kyle is really trying his best," said Ujiri. "He's always been in a situation where there is another point guard that is high-caliber behind him, pushing back at him. Now he's been given the team. You're a starting point guard. Run your team."

Ujiri was hired to bring success to a franchise that has won one divisional title and one playoff series in 18 seasons. The obvious route would have been to tear down and rebuild. Instead he has found promise in an experienced championship coach (as a Mavericks' lead assistant) in Casey, and in a talented young roster with upside whose oldest starter is Lowry, just now hitting his prime.

The biggest difference that Ujiri has made in his short time has been to unload the players that didn't fit while showing faith in those that do. Where others saw problems in Lowry, the Raptors saw hope. Lowry will be a free agent this summer, and if he is able to maintain and build upon Toronto's last month of good play, then he may have found himself a home.

"With me being older and having the summer I had - having a son, having a wife -- it's one of those things where you learn, you grow up, you mature," said Lowry. "You understand that things aren't always going to be perfect, but you have to fight through them.

"I worked my ass off to be in good shape," Lowry went on, "and to make sure to prove people wrong. I want to be better, but I think right now I'm damn good. I think I can hold my own against anybody."

Kyle Lowry, Raptors silencing critics with timely turnaround - NBA - Ian Thomsen - SI.com

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Old 01-23-2014, 11:43 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Good read but, one thing the article missed out on was the reasons behind why lowery was traded, and then the deal was turned down by the NYK owner. If things were so peaches and cream, why trade him at that point?
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:46 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Good read but, one thing the article missed out on was the reasons behind why lowery was traded, and then the deal was turned down by the NYK owner. If things were so peaches and cream, why trade him at that point?
He tried to trade him around the time we were 6-12. At that point it seems MU though it was time to make more changes after the Gay deal.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:02 PM   #25 (permalink)
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So considering the fact that lowry has little to no value around the league, im gonna say the guy gets signed to a 7-8million/year deal if we sign him.....which is good, cause we cant afford to overpay any more players at this point
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:03 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Kind of interesting that DC was not at this big meeting no? ....
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:06 PM   #27 (permalink)
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So considering the fact that lowry has little to no value around the league, im gonna say the guy gets signed to a 7-8million/year deal if we sign him.....which is good, cause we cant afford to overpay any more players at this point
He has little value as a rental, yet as he continued to up his game it seems more teams had interest. If he continues his play (possibly becoming an all-star), there will be interest. I still contend he won't get a 10mil/yr offer.
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:27 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I feel like Kyle Lowry is one of those guys who spent his entire life playing
and loving basketball while having a single minded focus type of thing going on.
(kind of like a musical genius who spends all his time playing piano, composing music etc)
I always felt like Lowry was somewhat "strange" for lack of a better word, anti-social ... misunderstood)

It seems all it took was a logical, understanding man to reach out honestly in a constructive way.
()
Anyhow, my feeling is that Lowry loves the guys on this team.
He seems to have found a family and a home.
I think a lot of his amazing play is for those guys in the locker room and his love for the city.
I think because of this, it is a win/win situation for Lowry to take a team friendly contract.
I truly feel he has bought in, 110%.

His playing last night, while sick as a dog was most awesome and a turning point in my eyes.
Kyle Lowry has changed for the better.


End of weird post, promise.

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Old 01-23-2014, 01:26 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I doubt he would take a team friendly contract, but if ours and some otter teams offer would be the same, I think there's a good chance he would stay
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:28 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I doubt he would take a team friendly contract, but if ours and some otter teams offer would be the same, I think there's a good chance he would stay
1) Money + term
2) Playing time
3) Fit w/roster.....chance to win
4) market


^ These are his likley considerations (in order). And if so, i think we have a good chance at re-signing him.
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Old 01-23-2014, 02:28 PM   #31 (permalink)
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I can't really muster up any desire to curse any of that now that Masai has somehow traded Rudy Gay.
i feel this way too until i think about landry fields. i don't think i can totally stop cursing colangelo until landry's expiring contract is in play.
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:20 PM   #32 (permalink)
and that's the bottom line, cause JV said so!!!

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Props to him for playing sick
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:27 PM   #33 (permalink)
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i feel this way too until i think about landry fields. i don't think i can totally stop cursing colangelo until landry's expiring contract is in play.
I can't even get too worked up about that. It just makes me laugh and feel very lucky that the whole push for Nash didn't work. It might have also made NY think they were getting the best of us again with the Bargnani trade - maybe softened them up a bit.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:32 PM   #34 (permalink)
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love that article

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Old 01-23-2014, 05:40 PM   #35 (permalink)
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1) Money + term
2) Playing time
3) Fit w/roster.....chance to win
4) market


^ These are his likley considerations (in order). And if so, i think we have a good chance at re-signing him.

What makes you say money is his first priority?
Do you have anything to back that up?
I guess he has been pretty underpaid for years now,
I could see him wanting to make that paper.
I wish I was like that girl on True Blood so I could read his mind!!
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:49 PM   #36 (permalink)
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What makes you say money is his first priority?
Do you have anything to back that up?
I guess he has been pretty underpaid for years now,
I could see him wanting to make that paper.
I wish I was like that girl on True Blood so I could read his mind!!
This will be the biggest contract of his career in all likelyhood, so yeah it'll be right there a the top of the list or maybe 2nd. I say first, but that's my opinion.
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