The first big domino of NBA free agency has fallen as the Toronto Raptors and point guard Kyle Lowry — a Cardinal Dougherty and Villanova alum — agreed to a four-year contract Wednesday night, agent Andy Miller told USA TODAY Sports.
The contract, which can be signed July 10, is worth $48 million over those four years, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the deal.
Lowry, 28, is coming off the best season of his eight-year career, averaging 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds a game for the 48-34 Raptors, one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. The average of $12 million a year is nearly double what he made last season, at about $6.2 million.
The best point guard on the market, Lowry was sought after by teams including the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, whom he played 3½ seasons for earlier in his career. But he chose to return to the Raptors, whose approach under general manager Masai Ujiri has been built on tough players rather than household names, such as Lowry and power forward Amir Johnson.
The deal falls in line with others for similar-level point guards in recent years. The Denver Nuggets’ Ty Lawson also signed for four years and $48 million, while Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry received four years and $44 million but was coming off an injury-plagued season. By contrast, the Brooklyn Nets signed point guard Deron Williams to a five-year deal worth nearly $99 million in 2012.
While Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat agreed to a larger deal (five years, $60 million) Tuesday, Lowry was viewed as a more likely target for other teams. His decision could set up a ripple effect, or that all could continue to wait for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Lowry’s career season came after he had taken a slight step back in 2012-13, his first with the Raptors. But he has long been an efficient point guard and a scrappy defender despite his 6-0 frame. For his career, he has averages of 11.7 points, 5.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 28.8 minutes a game.
The Raptors now must decide whether to keep Greivis Vasquez, the backup point guard who often joined Lowry on the court because he has enough size to play shooting guard. Power forward Patrick Patterson also is a free agent.
With Lowry off the market, the best available point guards are restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe, who almost surely will stay with the Phoenix Suns, and Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings.