Nov 11, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) shoots the ball during the second overtime period at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Big names have hit the market this summer. The Big Three in Miami opted out of their respective contracts to become free agents. Carmelo Anthony is being pursued.
But beyond these four perennial All-Stars, there are a couple great bargains to be found. Former Rocket Kyle Lowry heads up these bargains.
The Rockets began the free agency period not meeting with the max contract superstars, but rather with one of the most underrated point guards in the league according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
After Toronto/Houston visits, Lowry huddling w/ agent Andy Miller. Heat, Lakers want meetings. Holding pattern, mulling Raps/Rockets offers.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
Lowry may have never made an All-Star team, but this season he truly should have.
Lowry was largely responsible for the Toronto Raptors’ turnaround, and his versatile jack-of-all-trades style would be a great fit in Houston. Though Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin did a decent job of running the show, adding a top-10 point guard like Lowry would dramatically improve Kevin McHale’s rotations.
Lowry, as mentioned, does a little of everything. His diminutive frame enables him to get low on opposing point guards, pressuring and pestering them much in the same way Avery Bradley does in Boston.
But Lowry brings superior offense to Bradley. Last season, Lowry averaged 7.4 assists per game, while committing just 2.5 turnovers. That nearly 3:1 ratio tied Utah’s Trey Burke for the 8th best mark in the Association. Lowry also had a career high in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game while improving his three-point accuracy to a career high 38 percent. That shooting bodes well in a Rockets offense which will provide Lowry plenty of chances to spot up, wide open.
Lowry is likely to command around $10 million per season, but it is money well spent. The argument could be well formed that adding Lowry and retaining Chandler Parsons is the Rockets best chance to keep a quality rotation. By pursuing Anthony or James, the Rockets would fall into the same pitfall the Miami Heat did; namely, a serious lack of depth that is exploited by the deepest teams in the West, as we saw the Spurs obliterate a top-heavy Heat team in the 2014 NBA Finals.
May 2, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) in the first half in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center.Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
So, while the masses clamor for LeBron James and Anthony, it may be the lower level free agents that hold the key to the Rockets becoming first-tier contenders. Lowry is unlikely to be a Hall of Famer like the top of this free agent class, but his win-shares are on par with some very good complimentary players in Association lore.
Lowry is right there with Terrell Brandon, Kendall Gill, Ron Harper and Kenny Anderson.
All four were talented guards in the 90s; and to casual fans today, they are all but forgotten. But it’s the defense and intangibles that made Lowry great, and that’s what Rockets GM Daryl Morey seems most concerned with. The right decision seems to be to bring the six-foot point guard (You really believe he is six-foot? Try 5’10”) and retain the talented Parsons.
Sometimes, having the best team on paper doesn’t account for much. Ask the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, who are still shaking their collective heads that having four likely Hall of Famers resulted in a very mediocre team.