Philadelphia 76ers: Chris Paul’s shine is raising Kyle Lowry’s value

Chris Paul is two wins away from becoming an NBA Champion.

In a world where the self-proclaimed “Point Guard” was once considered an over-the-hill has-been who had to be packaged alongside additional assets to keep the Hoston Rockets Finals eligible, Paul’s ability to professionally run an offense to his head coach’s specifications has helped vault the Suns from a 34 win team in 2019-20 to a 51 point squad in 2020-21, securing the second seed in the Western Conference in the process.

Assuming Paul hits free agency later this summer, which the Suns probably won’t let happen but is totally possible if he opts out of his contract, there will be plenty of suitors for the 16th year pro, even if he’ll be 36 years old when the regular season opens up this fall.

Is Paul an aberration? Have advances in sports science extended an NBA player’s prime into their late 30s, and suddenly we’ll see players with generational asset pools like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Steph Curry, and Dwight Howard play into their 40s, or has Paul’s style of play prolonged his career a little longer than most and his signs of age will start to show in the back half of a future contract?

Needless to say, Kyle Lowry‘s forthcoming free agency period is going to be fascinating, especially if the Philadelphia 76ers are unable to secure the sort of superstar 1B they’re after this summer.

The Philadelphia 76ers may be able to squeeze what’s left out of Lowry’s prime.

As the NBA postseason starts to wind down, fans across the league have already begun to look ahead to free agency and all of the excitement the most wonderful time of the year holds.

Whether your preferred team has enough money to secure a max contract player out of pocket or sits $6 million over the luxury cap threshold, there are always opportunities to improve a roster in one way or another, even if the options vary situationally.

Maybe this will be the year some squad secures the next Reggie Jackson, aka a buyout player who turns themselves into a playoff starter, or the year another team signs actual Reggie Jackson, and he’s able to translate his postseason success with the Clippers into a new normal? Either way, with no meaningful basketball games on the books, fans can sit back and imagine what could be even if such desires get dashed within a week of opening night.

With that being said, there’s a growing conception around the league that Kyle Lowry is somehow a secondary prize on the open market, one significantly less desirable than many of his peers; a conception that you can 100 percent miss me with.

You see, Lowry has been in the NBA for one fewer season than Chris Paul. He’s appeared in 158 fewer games, played in five fewer All-Star games, and has 8,479 fewer minutes on his tires than the pride of Wake Forest University.

If you’re a team looking for a similarly experienced point guard, one with an NBA championship win under his belt nonetheless, landing Lowry on a mid-term deal would be a pretty darn easy to swallow consolation prize, especially if he’s only looking for a contract in the vein of $50 million over two years (more on that here).

While the exact package the Raptors would require for Lowry’s services is a tad hard to predict, as the process of sign-and-trade can get rather complicated in a hurry, and the player can opt against any deal he doesn’t like, it’s not hard to fit Lowry at $25 million onto the Philadelphia 76ers’ books if that is the desired outcome. Assuming “you know who” isn’t included in a hypothetical deal, the Sixers could package George Hill and Danny Green (as part of another sign-and-trade), and you have $25 million in the dot.

If the chances of Green returning this fall aren’t particularly good – which, according to Keith Pompey, appears to be the case – landing a player like Lowry would be an incredible value, especially if it doesn’t mean surrendering Matisse Thybulle or Tyrese Maxey in the deal.

I mean, think about it; Lowry checks pretty much every box the Sixers are looking for this fall. He’s a local prospect, a Villanova product, and a 3-and-D combo guard who has become increasingly comfortable playing off the ball alongside another point guard since Fred VanVleet’s emergence in 2018. Lowry was a member of the 2016 Olympic Team, has competed in the 3 point shooting contest on two separate occasions, and is the proud owner of four(!?) different all-time Toronto Raptors records.

You want a lead guard to run the show? Lowry can do that. How about a bulldog defender who will fight for rebounds like a player a foot taller and give opposing guards fits on ball? Lowry does that too. Heck, Lowry can even be a viable off-ball contributor if a team like the Sixers can somehow secure a more prolific fourth-quarter closer, as he can knock down open looks with ease and take over plays when need be.

Really, the only thing Lowry can’t do is dunk the basketball, because at 6-foot-0, he’s just… wait, Lowry can do that too? My goodness, talk about a five-tool player.

Now granted, Lowry is not on the same level as either Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard. He’s a good bit older, a bit less dynamic, and lacks the pure offensive dominance that either player had exhibited over the last half-decade. But what Lowry brings to the table is valuable too, especially for a younger team built around a post-centric offense.

And, if the Philadelphia 76ers decide to put Simmons on the table in any potential trade conversations with the Raptors, well, the return could be a whole lot more prolific than just Lowry.

Did you, by any chance, know that Pascal Siakam‘s relationship with Nick Nurse is strained to the point of the former getting fined $50,000 for “severely heated choice words” towards his head coach during a game versus Cleveland back in March? Or that everyone from NBC Sports to The Athletic has pontificated about a potential trade of Siakam to the Golden State Warriors?

I don’t know about you, but flipping Simmons and Hill for a package of Siakam and Lowry is about as good a return as any non-MVP-level move on the board right now, especially if the Sixers could also walk away with a player like Gary Trent Jr. in exchange for someone like Shake Milton.

In a way, that sort of flexibility really speaks to Lowry’s versatility, as he could remain a viable starter for the Sixers regardless of how they opt to attack their summer.

Is Kyle Lowry the next Chris Paul? No. Whether CP3 walks away with one final max-level contract will likely have little impact on how much money Lowry makes or how hard teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers push for his services as they are two different players in two different situations. But by continuing to impress two games into the Finals, the idea that Lowry is somehow washed becomes harder to justify, as he’s younger and has fewer minutes on his NBA ticker. If his body of work is impressive enough to be garner attention from two of the top teams in the NBA, there’s clearly a reason for that.