Does Kyle Lowry Have a Long-Term Future with the Toronto Raptors?

James BorbathContributor IMarch 7, 2017

December 3, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (3) reacts after injuring his shoulder as he and guard Jose Calderon (8) walk back to the bench during a timeout during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.  The Nuggets won 113-110.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

When the Toronto Raptors made the trade for Kyle Lowry, they called him their point guard of the future. After making a big push to get Steve Nash and coming up short, they paid a high price to bring in Lowry. In exchange for him, the Raptors sent a virtually guaranteed lottery pick and Gary Forbes to the Houston Rockets.  

The plan was to have Jose Calderon back him up, then maybe at some point move Calderon and go forward with Lowry.

Things in almost every sense have not gone as planned for the Raptors. Calderon making a strong case to be the starter was not exactly in the plan. It leaves the Raptors with a very tricky situation.

Lowry, based on the timeline the Raptors have provided, should be able to return from his partial triceps tear when the Raptors get back to business against the Spurs after their five-day Christmas break. Coach Dwane Casey has suggested that he does not want to break up what is working.  Which would suggest we may see Lowry coming off the bench.

Casey would not get into his point-guard situation when I was on hand Friday night for his post-game remarks after his squad beat the Orlando Magic for its fifth straight win.

But it would seem the Raptors are once again on the verge of yet another point-guard controversy. This sets up to be much like the original one involving Calderon and T.J Ford.

This is important because of the contract situations of the players involved. Much like with the Ford situation, Calderon is set to become a free agent. Based on his contract, Lowry only has one more season beyond this one with the Raptors. 

How the Raptors handle Calderson will greatly impact their ability to re-sign Lowry. Some Raptors fans feel that Calderon should be re-signed. This seems to be somewhat unrealistic, given the franchise has tried to move or replace him so often.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument they are right and the Raptors do re-sign Calderon. What does this do for Lowry and his desire to re-sign with Raptors a year later? The answer would be fairly obvious, would it not?

Given the price the Raptors paid to get Lowry, could they even entertain re-signing Calderon and run the risk of losing him? No one expected Calderon to have two triple-double performances at this point. However, you almost certainly had to anticipate that if a window opened for him to regain his starting role, he would seize it. For anyone who has watched Calderon's eight years in Toronto, that comes as no surprise.

It also seems fairly clear that if the Raptors are not willing to give up on any of their young talent, Calderon becomes your most attractive trading piece.

What could be the Raptors way out of this mess is if Lowry returns and recognizes the success Calderon has had and accepts a role coming off the bench. In the three games before his injury, Lowry was playing at an all-star level, despite the Raptors winning only one of those games.

If Lowry comes back and shows more faith in the guys around him and less in his own play, that scenario could work.

If the Raptors attempt to play both at the same time, the two as a tandem with DeMar DeRozan sliding down to small forward has not been an effective lineup.

Off the court, Lowry will never be more popular with the fans and media than Calderon. Ford was unjustly cast as the villain by simply stating that he wanted to be the starter, while Calderon is thought of as the ultimate team guy, which if you like him, you firmly believe to be true.

Make no mistake about it, though, Calderon wants to start just as badly. He also wants to secure himself a contract for the most dollars he can in free agency this offseason.

This is quite the mess to be sorted out by Bryan Colangelo and Casey. Colangelo himself is in a contract year. He has an option on his current deal, which the Raptors could pass on and he would be out as president and general manger.

This brewing point-guard mess may not even be his biggest problem. Andrea Bargnani has become almost a super villain to Toronto fans. They want him gone and point to the team's current five-game winning streak without him as evidence.

Calderon, even though I've never been a personal supporter of his, deserves credit for competing and defeating all the flavors of the month that have been placed in his way. If Ford, Jarrett Jack, Jerryd Bayless and now Lowry could have built a compelling enough case to be the starting point guard, this would not be an issue.

Call it bad luck or Calderon’s will to never die or give up. But it is a case of history repeating itself. More than anyone, the Raptors should have seen this coming, given their history with Calderon and the results it has produced.  

Now they could end up with a situation in which Calderon walks and Lowry wants no part of being in Toronto. That would be the absolute worst-case scenario.