Report: The surprising team expected to pursue Kyle Lowry this offseason

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After a 109-102 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors' 2017 postseason run came to an unceremonious end.

Now, on the heels of that Eastern Conference semifinal sweep, the Raptors face a summer of uncertainty as there are several players with expiring contracts who need to be dealt with.

The most notable names on that list are star point guard Kyle Lowry and newly acquired forward Serge Ibaka, both of whom are unrestricted free agents this offseason.

According to Zach Lowe of, the Raptors will have plenty of competition on the free-agent market for Lowry, including Lowry's hometown Philadelphia 76ers:

"Play hardball with Lowry, and he might leave - just like Al Horford bolted Atlanta after the Hawks haggled over that dicey fifth season. Lowry's a prickly, proud dude, and he will have suitors - including his hometown Sixers. He signed what turned out to be a wildly below-market contract in 2014, and he (justifiably) wants to be paid as a franchise guy. He led the sad-sack Raptors out of the sullen Andrea Bargnani era, to places where they had never been."

Lowry, at age 31, is coming off an All-Star season in which he averaged 22.4 points, 7.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game, so he's clearly still in his prime.

However, the question on the minds of many people in the Raptors' front office is whether or not the team can achieve the level of success it wants to achieve with the way the roster is currently constructed:

"The summer is huge," Masai Ujiri, the team's GM, told after Sunday's game. "But every summer is huge. We are trying to keep up with the big boys."

The star backcourt of Lowry and DeMar DeRozan has been good enough to lead the Raptors to a top-four playoff seed in the Eastern Conference the past couple of years, but the team hasn't been able to get past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Of course, LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, so the Raptors aren't alone in their struggles against one of the best players ever to play in the league.

Still, it doesn't make sense for Toronto to pay Lowry a max deal and also keep the rest of the team's nucleus in place. Therefore, it seems likely that either Lowry or Ibaka - but not both - will be back with the team, while the other heads off to a new squad for the 2017-18 season.

Whatever happens this offseason, though, it's sure to be an interesting one for the Raptors - and potentially the 76ers, as well.

Kyle Lowry
Toronto Raptors
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Playoffs
DeMar DeRozan

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