"New Raptors front-office boss Masai Ujiri has managed to trade away Andrea Bargnani and now Gay over the past six months to create financial flexibility going forward and -- with Toronto apparently determined to avoid any accidental success in the Atlantic Division -- is said to be happy to surrender veteran point guard Kyle Lowry next."
While Stein doesn't mention the Heat in particular, an interesting tidbit popped up later in the day on the ESPN rumors page. Joe Kaiser speculates that the Heat might be interested in Lowry to fill their need for a backup guard to take Dwyane Wade's minutes on his off nights.
"Miami Heat: Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported last week that the Heat have started trade talks to get backcourt help, and there might not be a better target out there than Lowry. To pull off the deal, the Heat would have to send a higher salary back in return since they are over the cap, and a deal that would make the most sense is Joel Anthony and James Jones, along with a 2014 first-rounder. The only problem with that is Anthony is due $3.8 million next season, so the Raptors likely would push the Heat to include some cash in the deal (otherwise, Toronto's expenses go up $2.9 million next year in such a deal)."
Which begs a few questions: is this a good deal for Miami? Is this what Toronto is looking for? Does Lowry fit in with the Heat?
According to hoopsworld.com, Joel Anthony (who is Canadian) is set to make $3.8 million this season and has a player option for the same amount next year. Jones is on the books for $1.5 million this season, and is an expiring contract. On Toronto's side, Lowry has an expiring contract worth $6.2 million.
On Miami's side, financially, the deal is probably beneficial, as they shed Joel Anthony's contract next season and could potentially throw some of that money at Mario Chalmers, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Jones is an expiring contract, so financially, his presence in the deal is just to balance things out. Kaiser mentions that the Heat would likely have to throw in some cash to lighten the blow of Toronto having to pay Anthony next season, but if they feel Lowry is the right fit, it seems likely that they would do that.
In terms of how this deal would work out on the court, I'm skeptical. Lowry is listed at 6'0", and while Wade isn't exactly tall for a shooting guard, Lowry doesn't fid the mold at all for a 2. Lowry isn't a great floor spacer, something the Heat really value (he's a career 34% three-point shooter, which is good, but not great), and defensively, does he really sound so much different from what the Heat already have at point guard? From Zach Lowe of Grantland last season:
"Lowry is a speedy ball-hawk whose defense has slipped since his peak in Houston in 2010-11, mostly because he breaks from the system to freelance far too often - a habit that's annoyed coaches at all of his stops."
The first sentence seems to be what the Heat already have in Chalmers and Cole, and the second sentence doesn't fit the culture of the team at all.
Anthony and Jones aren't giving the Heat any on court production right now, but are both fan favorites and good teammates. Is it really worth it for the Heat to make changes in the locker room when there is such as a questionable on court fit? And on top of that, the Heat would definitely have to give up their 2014 first round pick, and with the Big 3 potentially splitting up after this season, can they really afford to do that just to add a third point guard?
While Lowry is extremely talented - he's averaging 15 points and 7 assists per game this season with a PER over 17 - the fit here is extremely questionable. If the Heat do bring in veteran help to help the team when Dwyane Wade needs to rest, they will likely seek out somebody who can give them one of two things: defense and floor spacing, which have basically been the two staples of the Big 3 era. Does Lowry fit that role? I say no.
(As for why Toronto would take this deal? I think this guy knows the answer. They can almost definitely get more for Lowry, but if the Heat call with this deal, I don't think they hang up immediately).
I'm not expecting the Heat to stay quiet for much longer if they do plan to make a move, but I would not expect to see Kyle Lowry bringing his talents to South Beach any time soon.