The Toronto Raptors are still basking in the glow of their first NBA championship, a feat that came less than two months ago and was driven in large part by Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said he found out personally this summer that Leonard, who was a free agent, was signing with the LA Clippers rather than staying put.
Lowry told reporters at Monday’s first training practice with USA Basketball that he holds no ill will toward his former teammate for moving on from Toronto.
His reaction upon hearing Leonard’s decision was as follows, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN: “I’m happy for you,” Lowry said. “I am happy for the guys that … especially a guy that helped do something fantastic and something great. He’s an unbelievable friend of mine and is a good guy.
“He made a decision to go home and he is happy with that and I am happy for him. Truly. I am genuinely happy for him. It gives him a chance to be around his family and friends. You got to respect the guy and be happy for him.”
In addition, Lowry said Leonard’s departure didn’t change the way he felt about Toronto reigning supreme in the NBA.
“No, not at all,” Lowry said, per ESPN.com. “Not at all. We are champions. No matter what. [It will] never be taken away from us. Ever. Ever, ever. Ever, ever.”
In addition to discussing Leonard’s departure, Lowry also spoke about his own future with Toronto as he can become a free agent next summer. Lowry said he wants to remain with the Raptors long term (he has spent seven of his 13 NBA seasons in Toronto) and recently hired Mark Bartelstein as his agent, ESPN reports.
“I want to be there — I would love to do a long [term] extension, but we’ll see what happens,” Lowry said Monday when asked about staying with the Raptors beyond this season.
“I’m here for USA Basketball and support the guys and be around the group. [But] I would love to be there long term, but we’ll have that discussion when the time is right.”
Lowry did not participate in the USA’s first practice as he heals up following a procedure to repair a torn tendon in his left thumb. He’s hoping to be cleared to practice when the team reconvenes in Los Angeles from Aug. 13-16 for three more days of practice and an exhibition game against Spain. But right now, it’s not guaranteed that he’ll be able to play.
In Raptors lore, Lowry ranks as the team’s all-time leader in regular season 3-pointers made, 3-pointers attempted and steals while also ranking in the Top 5 in several other categories including games played, points scored, assists, free throws and more. In terms of playoff history, Lowry leads the Raptors in games played, points, assists, steals, field goals and 3-pointers.
Last season, Lowry made his fifth straight All-Star appearance and averaged 142 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He made the All-NBA third team in the 2015-16 season.